March 8, International Women’s Day, is a day that is all about the struggle for equality, justice and liberation. It is a day that celebrates the immense contributions that women have made to every progressive movement, past and present. And it is a day to renew our commitment to sweeping away every barrier to the complete emancipation of women.
It was Clara Zetkin, a German revolutionary, who first proposed in 1910 that March 8 be celebrated as International Women’s Day. Zetkin was inspired by the fight of working women in the United States. In 1908, women, mainly from the garment industry, came together in New York City’s Rutgers Square on March 8 to demand a strong union in the needle trades and the right to vote. Zetkin’s proposal was taken up – with enthusiasm – and today this holiday is celebrated by working people worldwide. In some places, like Cuba and Democratic Korea, it’s a state recognized holiday. In cities of the Europe and in the countries of the third world it is an occasion for protests and demonstrations.
Here in the U.S. we should join the world in celebrating International Women’s Day. In doing so, we should work to unite the struggle of the working class with the women’s liberation movement. Important rights that affect all women – equal pay for comparable work, affirmative action, quality and affordable childcare and full reproductive rights – must continue to be fought for by everyone, including men.
Women hold up half the sky. We are an important part of our communities and anything that limits our participation and leadership in the community will hurt all of the community. The demands of working-class women and women of color are a part of the demands of the multinational working class. The women’s liberation movement can only achieve its objectives through the full participation and leadership of all working-class women, that is representative in regard to of nationality, sexual orientation, ability and age.
This year we have seen a renewed assault on women’s rights – most visibly with women’s right to choose. The Supreme Court, which decided the court case that made abortion legal, has had two spots open up; one has already been taken by right-winger John Roberts and the other is still open but highly contested. Many argue the final decision on Bush’s nomination of Samuel Alito by the Senate will be based on his previous abortion decisions. Additionally, this year we have again seen increasing cuts to social programs and welfare, cuts which affect women of color disproportionally.
This year we must stand together to unite the struggles of women of color and working class women into the multinational working class. International Women’s Day, along with May Day – International Workers Day – are the two days of celebration born in the U.S. out of working class struggle. This year let us stand together on March 8, 2006 as we fight back against the Bush regime!