Everything you need to know about International Women’s Day

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Why is International Women’s Day held on March 8th? What are we ‘celebrating’ today?

On the February 28th, 1909, 15,000 women took part in a march (participaron en una manifestación) in New York, organized by the Socialist Party of America. The first Women’s Day marchers (manifestantes) were standing up for (se alzaron en defensa de) better work conditions, equal rights and suffrage (sufragio, voto) for women.

Three years later, on the 25th of March 1911, something happened that would change the course of history. 146 women and girls –most of them immigrants– tragically died in a fire in the Triangle Shirtwaist factory in New York. They had been locked (encerradas) in the building and couldn’t escape the fire. This dreadful (terrible) act had a major impact on the work legislation (legislación laboral) in the US.

Back in those days (en aquella época), National Women’s Day was still celebrated on the last Sunday in February. Even though (aunque) there were several women-led protests (protestas lideradas por mujeres) in the years after that, none of them happened on March 8th, until 1914, when the US recognized March 8th as International Women’s Day. But what was happening in the rest of the world around March 8th? Let’s see.

  • In Spain, March 8th (1910) marked the day that women were allowed access to higher education (se les permitió el acceso a las mujeres a la educación superior) with the same rights as men. Before that, although not banned by law (aunque no estaba prohibido por la ley), it was seen as unusual or undesirable (indeseable) for a woman to attend (asistir a) university. Back then a woman's role (rol, papel) was exclusively seen as being a good wife and mother.

 

  • In August 1910 Luise Zietz, a German Socialist, proposed the establishment of an annual international Women’s Day. And the following year, not March 8th but March 19 was marked as the International Women’s Day by over a million people (más de un millón de personas) in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, where women protested against employment gender discrimination (discriminación de género en el trabajo) and demanded the right to vote (derecho al voto) and hold public office (ocupar cargos públicos).

 

  • Also, on March 8th 1917, women textile workers (trabajadoras de la industria textil) from Petrograd began a demonstration throughout the whole city (una manifestación por toda la ciudad). This demonstration was so big that it marked the beginning of the Russian Revolution. Seven days later, Nicholas II, Emperor of Russia abdicated and the provisional government granted (garantizó) women the right to vote.

 

  • In 1919 the State Council in China proclaimed March 8th as an official holiday when women would be given half-day off (medio día libre).

As time has gone by (con el paso del tiempo), International Women’s Day has gained (obtenido) more and more attention around the world. Today, March 8th is a global meeting point (un punto de encuentro mundial) for feminist organizations and individuals who fight for women’s rights and their participation in political and economic life.

International Women’s Day is not just a date in the calendar. It’s not just the day when you say ‘thank you’, ‘you women are great’ or ‘happy Women’s Day’ to the women around you. March 8th is a symbol, a tribute (un homenaje) to all those activists who fought and have been fighting restlessly (sin descanso) for decades to defend women’s rights. March 8th is a reminder (un recordatorio) that women must have the opportunity, the power, and the responsibility to empower themselves (empoderarse) around the world.

VOCABULARY

to take part in a march

participar en una manifestación

marchers

manifestantes

to stand up for

alzarse en defensa de

suffrage

sufragio, voto

locked

encerrado/a

work legislation legislación laboral
back in those days en aquella época
even though, although aunque

women-led protests

protestas lideradas por mujeres

to be allowed

permitírsele

access to higher education acceso a la educación superior
banned by law prohibido por la ley

undesirable

indeseable

attend

asistir a

role rol, papel
over a million people más de un millón de personas
employment gender discrimination discriminación de género en el trabajo
right to vote derecho al voto
hold public office ocupar cargos públicos
textile workers trabajadoras de la industria textil
demonstration manifestación
throughout the whole city por toda la ciudad
to grant garantizar
half-day off medio día libre
as time has gone by con el paso del tiempo
to gain obtener
global meeting point punto de encuentro mundial
tribute homenaje
restlessly sin descanso
reminder recordatorio
to empower empoderar

 

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