March 8, International Women’s Day, is an occasion for all progressive forces and individuals in society to ponder seriously over the question of what is required to achieve and sustain the liberation of women from all forms of discrimination, oppression and exploitation in social and family life.
In the late1800s and early 1900s, working women in North America began their organised struggle to change the slavish conditions of their existence. They rebelled against the authority that was responsible for their slavery. In 1910, at the International Conference of Socialist Women in Copenhagen, Denmark, the German socialist leader Clara Zetkin had proposed the observance of an international day of struggle of women for their rights and their emancipation. March 8 came to be chosen as International Women’s Day in commemoration of a heroic struggle by women garment workers in New York on that day in 1857.
Over the last century, the struggle for the rights and emancipation of women has grown in strength to the point where the exploiters and oppressors of women themselves have had to make a show of celebrating March 8 as International Women’s Day. In the process, the real character and history of International Women’s Day – as a day which originated in the militant struggle of working women against exploitation and oppression – has been sought to be covered up.
Today, nearly a century later, women are still waging struggle for changing their conditions of life and work. They are demanding security of life and livelihood, clean drinking water and sanitation, decent and secure housing, education, and health care, including safe motherhood. They are staking their claim to participate as full members of society in their own right.
Let us ensure that becomes a celebration of the fighting spirit of
women down the ages, and the beginning of a new chapter in the struggle for