The first IWD was held on March 19, 1911 in Germany, Austria, Denmark and some other European countries. It was organised by German women as a protest against the Prussian king. Faced with an armed uprising, he had promised reforms, including votes for women. But he didn’t follow through. Here’s how an eye-witness described the day:
‘Germany and Austria …. was one seething trembling sea of women. Meetings were organised everywhere…..in the small towns and even in the villages, halls were packed so full that they had to ask (male) workers to give up their places for the women.
..During the largest street demonstrations, in which 30,000 were taking part, the police decided to remove the demonstrators’ banners: the women workers made a stand. In the scuffle that followed, bloodshed was averted only with the help of the socialist deputies in Parliament’.2
Over the years, IWD was used to discuss issues such as equality of race, pay, childcare, sex, living standards, housing and education.
The theme for this year is ‘Empower Women – end hunger and poverty’. That’s a pretty big goal. But with the approach of Mother’s day, here’s something you might want to do to help.
Kibera, Nairobi, is one of the most difficult and deprived urban environments on earth. For women there, life is especially tough. It usually means living in one room made of mud walls, a dirt floor and corrugated iron on the roof for a family of between five and eight people. There is no water or electricity supply into most of the homes and no bathrooms or kitchens.
Unemployment is high but without regular work, women cannot afford to pay for their children’s education, put a roof over their heads or food on the table.
Kipepeo Card Designs gives the women in Kibera skills and a regular income. The cards are fab and each one is signed by the woman who made it. For more info click here.