March 8th - International Women's Day
Today we celebrate International Women's Day. One hundred years ago this was not self-explanatory. Women took to the streets to fight for their rights and more equality. A walk down the path of history.
The tradition of International Women's Day dates back to the early 20th century. The working class emerged during the industrialization era during the 19th century. Women who were part of this class were exploited working in factories under inhumane conditions.
This resulted in working class women organizing and fighting for better working conditions, higher wages and the like. In 1909 the first and earliest Women's Day took place in the USA, propagating women's suffrage.
On August 27th, one year later, during 2nd International Conference of Socialist Women in Copenhagen, the annual implementation of International Women's Day was determined. This first International Women's Day took place in Denmark, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Switzerland and the United States on March 19, 1911, whereby millions of women took part. The day was a success in the following years, however, there was no specified date. International Women's Day usually took place during March or April.
A date was determined in 1921 and marked on March 8th. Equal rights, a woman's right to vote, protection for mother and child, minimum wage and labour protection laws were the focal points of these demonstrations.
During the interwar period, these demands were modified to include the legalization of abortion as well as maternity protection and maternity leave. International Women's Day was banned under the Nazi regime and replaced by Mother's Day. This had a negative impact in other countries such as Switzerland. The fight for women's rights suffered much of its momentum during the Second World War. During the following decades it sadly only played a minor role.
The seventies displayed the emergence of a new women's movement on the day and was dubbed the day of Women's Solidarity. However, it soon became a day of action during the eighties, much like it was before the Second World War, emphasizing the worker's struggle.
Unfortunately, the trend was not carried through and the original concept and objectives, such as fighting against exploitation of women have softened and in some cases completely diminished. Today, March 8th is but a pale reflection of its origins and many women are still being exploited on all continents.
Fortunately, there are organizations and private initiatives that aim to improve this situation. Ecco Verde carries many brands that support local women's initiatives, contributing to the livelihood and empowerment of women around the world. Akamuti is one such brand that empowers women in Ghana by providing a valuable and sustainable form of income to women who contribute to harvesting the shea nuts for the production of shea butter.
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