Nasreen Pejvack writes about the history and currency of International Women’s Day (March 8).

Well over a hundred years ago, garment workers in New York City protested against inhuman and callous working conditions, such as long 10 to 13 hour days, and they demanded better wages, more support, and a less harsh workplace.

They rallied and marched into the New York City streets chanting for their right to be treated with respect.  Police arrived on the scene and broke up the march.  This event took place on March 8th, 1857.

In support of this event, people of the area held annual small gatherings here and there.  Then on February 28, 1908, the Socialist Party of America held a gathering to honor the March 8th events of the previous years, and decided to have rally on that date to remember the strike and the aftermath of 1857, and also to support the women workers who had bravely organized.  On March 8, 1908, group of women workers in a needle trades factory of New York protested again, first honoring the 1857 march, but also demanding the right to vote and an end to child labor.  Police arrived once more and broke up the picketing, scattering them and not allowing the protest to go on.

Eventually, in 1910, at the second International Conference of Working Women held in Copenhagen, Clara Zetkin, a German Social Democrat, proposed that March 8th be announced as International Women’s Day, to honor the two American demonstrations, and also to honor all working women, and women’s struggle everywhere throughout the world.

There were a few years of debate and discussion; nonetheless as of 1917, March 8 officially has been recognized as International Women’s Day.

We have come a long way since then, and over hundred and fifty years have passed.  We vote, we have much shorter working hours, and significantly better pay.  We have insurance, a measure of security, and in the case of divorce, child support and equalities in many ways (mostly in developed world countries).

March 8th has been celebrated since then in many parts of our world.  We remember the ones who fought for women’s rights and established their annual commemoration.  We have accomplished a lot and defeated some inequalities; yet we still have work ahead of us to achieve our true place on this planet.  First and foremost, a good number of young women seem to have no clue why they have it so easy.  They seem lost in the wonders of new technology and the distractions and dreams of Hollywood celebrity life.   Am I against these new wonderful technologies?  Not at all; if we use them to our own advancement and advantage, technologies are great tools.  But do we all use them in pursuit of a directed goal in establishing a better world?

Our mothers earned the equalities and relative comforts we enjoy today.  Yet many young women today are carelessly unconcerned with how much our world needs them in order to carry on the legacy and responsibilities handed down to them; responsibilities as superior beings to craft a better world for all.  The apathy of this generation will affect all of us, makes us weak, and in time will work against what our mothers and sisters fought for. 

We are the sole source of all humankind on this planet, and we must not make mistakes in nurturing the next generation.  We may have gained much in the developed world, but the battle for women’s rights in the developing world has in many cases not even begun properly.  Last year over 200 young women, some even children, were abducted in Nigeria; and this year many of them have given birth to the children of rapist Boko Haram soldiers; and we, the mothers of the world, are only watching and following the news.  Boko Haram is one example; we each have many other issues on our minds.

Do we do anything about them?

Is there anything we can do?

Do we share our thoughts with one another?

Have our governments worked effectively in regards to such issues as Boko Haram, or are they even on their agenda?   Did we question that?

Do you ever ask yourself what would our world look like if we held top government posts and real political power?

 Well, looking at the science today, it is established that we women are much more compassionate, caring, loving, reliable, and conscientious, as well as much better decision makers.  I am sure we could establish a more secure and safe world for all women and their children throughout our planet.

 Sisters, what do you think?


The vital essence of life,

The embryo of our future,

The foundation of existence,

Woman, mother, daughter and sister,

Eradicate them, and there is no mankind.

There was a day when silence encircled them

A day when:

If she wrote a poem,

It was under a man’s name,

If she sang a song or acted, she was unrefined,

          And allowed to be molested

If she pursued sport, she was wild and foolish,

          And allowed to be molested

Her fate was chosen,

By father, husband, brother

Could she be a doctor, lawyer, judge?

Her capacities were doctored, lawyered and judged

Who made that resolve?  Men?

We voted out that archaic nonsense

We have revealed our strength

We enlarge science, literature and history

We have swept away the ancient axioms

We create men; give birth to each one,

Did we raise them poorly?

Not teach them the value of all?

Flawed and arrogant sons!

Is that why you don’t make sense?

We gave them life to husband our home,

          Yet some turned against us

Considered us emotional, illogical

Who preaches that? Men?

Our faults are plain.

We failed in solidarity,

Did not teach you well

             We love you at birth and in growth

             We bring you to flourish our home

Not to grasp at power and destruction

Not to slaughter in battle

              Enslaved to demagogues

We nourish our children,

Take care of them

               If they are wounded or lost

We do not give birth to soldiers

We do not need soldiers,

We want children who work together for one purpose only:

              A safe, healthy, vibrant home for all

Nasreen Pejvack—March 8, 2015 (author of Amity – fall 2015)