What Happened to the “Working” in International Working Women’s Day?

Daniel Willey A post by staff member Daniel Willey

Wednesday, March 8th marked International Working Women’s Day and the Women’s Strike, or the Day Without Women. On that day, women were encouraged to not work or shop and wear red in solidarity as a way of protesting inequality and showing women’s economic impact.

Protest organizers Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory, and Carmen Perez arrested at New York protest on Wednesday

 

But, International Working Women’s Day has always been a day for striking. The first time this day was observed in 1908, women marched in New York City against poor working conditions and low wages. The observance of International Working Women’s Day (IWWD) spread quickly to other countries as a part of socialist movements and, eventually, as protests against WWI. In 1917, women, joined by female textile workers and eventually working men, gathered in the Russian capital to protest living and working conditions– a day which would spark the Russian revolution.

It is in honor of this history and this tradition that I write this blog.

There have been a lot of critiques of this year’s IWWD Women’s Strike. I’ve read about how only privileged women who can afford time off or have the job stability will participate. Prince George’s county schools closed on Wednesday because so many of their teachers requested the day off, leaving poor kids without school lunch and breakfast and working parents with nowhere to put their kids. Some just plain argue that the strike is a symbolic gesture and that it’s effectively useless as a strategy.

I’d like to make a different critique: when International Working Women’s Day becomes International Women’s Day, we lose the incredible power of the strike and deny the history paved by women in labor movements. Continue reading

*Favorite Things* List from the United State of Women

IMG_9874.JPGA top 10 favorite things list about the United State of Women Summit complied by Women’s Center director, Jess Myers.

Maybe you heard about this little thing that happened in Washington, D.C. this week called the United State of Women Summit. If not, just to fill you in, it wasn’t little at all – it was a Pretty Big Deal. The Summit which was developed out of the White House Council on Women and Girls was the first of its kind with a charge to rally women and their allies together to celebrate what women have achieved and create solutions to help keep moving women’s issues and gender equity forward. I had the privilege of being one of the 5000 people in attendance as a representative of ACPA’s Coalition for Women’s Identities. In their opening remarks, Valerie Jarrett and Tina Tchen compared a meeting such as the USOW to the Seneca Falls Convention. And while, I’m not quite sure the Summit will have the same lasting historical event, it was nonetheless an important day for women and one which I’ll never forget.
I thought about my UMBC and Women’s Center families throughout the entire day and wanted to give you a little taste of the experience – some of my favorite things, you might say (wink wink, Oprah). Please note, this is not a critical analysis of the day’s events and speakers (you can google search for the think pieces later). Continue reading

My Lesson in Women’s History to the GOP Candidates

A blog reflection from Women’s Center staff member, Carrie Cleveland

Carrie Profile PicI watched the Republican debate twice.  Yes.  That is six hours of my life I spent listening, analyzing, and forming my own opinions about the candidates. I went in with some preconceived notions.  I knew any talk about Planned Parenthood would make me upset because this group of people fail to acknowledge what Planned Parenthood does for women who do not have access to gynecological care.  I was surprised when Donald Trump said he believes we need to spread out the vaccinations that children get because I feel the same way, but I’ll save that post for another day.  I was hoping to see Carly Fiorina carry the torch for  women, but she let me down.

Ms. Fiorina especially let me down when at the end the candidates were asked a “lighthearted” question about having a woman on the ten dollar bill, but so did most of the candidates. Senator Ron Paul chose Susan B. Anthony (yeah!) but then Mike Huckabee said his wife.  Wow.  Not to say anything negative about his wife Janet, but was he so unable to think of ONE woman who did anything for this country? Earlier in the debate he went on and on about ninth grade civics class but clearly Mr. Huckabee needs to spend some time learning about the great women of this country.  Continue reading