Every March 8 it is common for people to congratulate women on "their special day". But the reality is that International Women's Day is not an occasion to send this kind of message. Its true meaning is actually crude and has a deep history.
In the words of the UN, Women's Day is "a tradition of no less than ninety years of struggle for equality, justice, peace, and development." That is, it is a date in which the achievements of women in history are recognized, but it is also a time to reflect on the rights women lack.
March 8th is not a day to celebrate females who are dedicated, beautiful, intelligent or "superior to men." Although, in fact, it is a source of joy to applaud the achievements obtained by women for women, this date was not created to distribute congratulations to women just for the sake of it. It is to commemorate present, past and future efforts.
According to the UN and the Encyclopedia Britannica, the first Women's Day was celebrated on February 28 in the United States. The Socialist Party was the one who proposed that date as part of its campaign for female emancipation.
In 1910, the Socialist International in Europe resumed the American initiative thanks to the German activist Clara Zetkin. Zetkin wanted women to have 8-hour workdays like men, that there were limitations on women's and children's work, as well as the right to vote. According to the historian Temma Kaplan, that's how International Women's Day had a socialist origin.
An event that is related to this date is the burning of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York. On March 25, 1911, 146 local workers lost their lives due to the fire; the majority were girls and young immigrant women. Journalist David von Drehle explained in Smithsonian that the fire started due to the precarious working conditions.
Let's compare this day with other important dates. On January 27, the International Holocaust Day is commemorated, honoring the victims of the genocide provoked by the Nazi regime. The occasion is also used to educate the generations about the importance of human rights and the horrors of discrimination.
On October 2 in Mexico, the Tlatelolco Massacre is remembered. That night in 1968 hundreds of men, women, and children protested against the occupation of the army inside the facilities of the UNAM. The demonstration ended with 500 detainees and approximately 200 or 300 deaths at the hands of the military, according to the BBC. "October 2 is not forgotten": the emblematic phrase in favor of democracy and against authoritarianism.
Neither on Holocaust Day nor on October 2 congratulations are distributed. They are days to remember what happened and what must change so that it never happens again. The same goes for International Women's Day.
It is not about sending congratulations to the women that surround you. If we really want to celebrate this date, let's do it by acknowledging the injustices that our genre faces. Congratulate the women who demonstrate that an egalitarian society is possible and let us join their cause. That would set a good party worth remembering.
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