Life Magzine Cover
Life Magazine Cover 20 February 1913, by Rea Irvin [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I just found out that March 8 is (was) International Women’s Day. 

I only found out because I’m catching up on my reading (now that Stress Free Dinner Parties is on the market), and one of the services I subscribe to commented on a political party’s choice to have their formal “celebratory” dinner in a men’s club that women can only access when brought in by their husbands.

And the Prime Minister is claiming this as some kind of equality victory when it doesn’t in fact, change anything – the women attending dinner will not be permitted to access the club after the function.

It is a little disappointing to not have known about the day earlier, but I suppose with politicians continuing to say and do stupid things, cocaine addicted athletes, and Australians on death row in Indonesia there has been a lot of competition for air time.

Though there has been Parliamentary debate about domestic violence, and how SOMETHING needs to be done.

So this made me curious about what the day is supposed to be about.

The day arises from the early suffrage campaigns, and marches demanding better pay and working conditions, and of course the vote.

The first observation was initiated by the Socialist Party of America as National Women’s Day on February 28, 1909. 

But Women’s Day was mandated by the second International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen in 1910 as a day to press these demands further, thus the first “International Women’s Day” celebration was 19 March 1911.

The official date of March 8 coincides with a Russian working women’s strike which resulted in their provisional right to vote.

Gradually, year by year, country by country, the day spread leading to the United Nations (UN) declaration that 1975 was International Women’s Year.

The day is represented by the colour purple, symbolising dignity.  The colour comes from the suffragette colour scheme of purple, white (purity) and green (hope) chosen by the Women’s Social and Political Union in Great Britain in 1908.

The UN’s intention for 2015 is to highlight the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action signed by 189 governments in 1995 (laying out a plan to achieve women’s rights) with the theme Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it!  The International Women’s Day Team Each set theirs as Make it Happen, “encouraging effective action for advancing and recognising women”.

So this is another day, built on the desire for equality and political power.

I have to say this one seems at face value to have been less successful than the Australia Day political campaign I referred to in January.

A small scan of today’s news tells me that International Women’s Day has been celebrated by a Queensland fun run to raise money for breast cancer and that pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine held a beauty pageant.

In the UK, the 17.5% gender pay gap remains, and women returning from maternity leave are being demoted.  In the US, the day is shortened to 23 hours by the commencement of Daylight Savings time – the only place in the world where the clocks change in March rather than April.  In Canada, 31% of women say they don’t have enough support balancing their roles as mother, housekeeper, and income earner.

That is just a quick scan, but it’s rather depressing.  We don’t seem to have met many of the goals of the early women’s movements.

Some women have made some significant achievements:

  • Christine Lagarde, the first woman Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund
  • Janet Yelland; first woman to chair the US Federal Reserve
  • Angela Merkel; Germany’s Chancellor
  • Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard; Nobel Prize winning scientist
  • Wajeha al-Huwaider; Saudi women’s rights activist

Yet we still live in a world where Mrs George Clooney (well respected Human Rights Lawyer Amal Alamuddin) is asked “who” she is wearing on her way into court in her prescribed court dress.

So just for a moment of dark humour (because if you didn’t laugh you would cry), here’s a quiz to help you determine what kind of difficult woman you are (I am so sad to report this site has shut down, and I have not found the quiz elsewhere).

For the record, I am a bluestocking, and I am quite happy with that.  Further, I am amused that the WordPress spell check doesn’t recognise bluestocking as a word.

Care to share what you are?


6 responses to “On International Women’s Day”

  1. JoJenna Rusk avatar
    JoJenna Rusk

    Mouthy Broad– which is funny, I would say I usually stuff it all inside but some of the description was true.

    1. Thanks for sharing JoJenna. I felt quite smug about being a bluestocking (smart-arse) – I like the notion of being smarter than some others. Does this “insult” make you proud or does it make you cringe?

      1. JoJenna Rusk avatar
        JoJenna Rusk

        I have found that being mouthy got me in trouble a lot (I got my mouth soaped and smacked a bit). So generally now I just bite my tongue. All instances rather painful ha ha. Any of them really, because stuffing isn’t good either. I guess going forward I would like to be able to manage this type of thing better. Being aware is a lot. Thanks for your blog Alex. You are an inspiration to me and many congrats on your E-book. Really you must be having the time of your life trying all these things. Just saw a course in our adult ed on Blogging for Money that I have been wanting to try but now I will step out and try to take it. (Have always thought it would be fun to try blogging but didn’t know what to write about or who would want to read it so have been hesitant to try.) Thanks for keeping us going and helping me get out of bed one day at a time. I only pray for such a clever type heading for my future blogging. I have been following this other blogger for a couple of years now. His journey is pretty unique and awesome if you care to read for entertainment, start from the beginning for the full adventure with him and his cat and his horn. Oh by the by, he was in Australia last summer and on tour with a musical group and believe he will be again this summer. Thanks again Alex, happy day to you, JJ

        1. Thank you so much for your kind words JoJenna, it means a lot to me to know that you trying something new because of me (though I think Blogging for Money sounds like hard work). And I’m glad to hear that you are still reading!

          My mother was a wooden spoon user, and I’m not sure whether that might be better than having my mouth washed out with soap or not. Sadly for her it just means I don’t talk to her much and we never discuss anything of consequence. On the upside, I am much better at concealing what I really think than I probably would have been otherwise – gold old poker face!

  2. JoJenna Rusk avatar
    JoJenna Rusk

    Alex, Here is the way I helped support this day, which I was unaware of until my friend asked me to participate. Here are the links: This was all started by a woman named Adele. Here is the Facebook page with some photos and

    [articles deleted at source]

    I had a lot of fun and it was a great night, lots of good food, music and fantastic women. A visual delight. I wore a costume of a French upper class woman from the mid-18th century with wig included. Nothing like having a spontaneous episode to spice up life and am very grateful for the experience.

    1. Thanks for sharing JoJenna, Adele’s story is certainly an encouraging one about an individual woman taking control of her own life. It looks like a beautiful and colourful evening.

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