March is considered Women’s History Month, a month in which various countries celebrate women.
March 8th marks the celebration of International Women’s Day, and multiple countries will celebrate with events and activities to claim a rich history of resilience. The UN Women motto this year is “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow.” And, it is very true that without equality today, a sustainable future can be out of our reach.
This is a period to create awareness and to honor the long struggle that women have led towards the attainment of social and working rights, to create an equitable and just society.
I thought it could be useful to include some of the context of the origin of this struggle for women’s rights:
This month commemorates the events of March 8th, 1875, in which, according to the UN, female garment workers from a New York factory protested for better work conditions and equal pay.
This protest resulted in the assesination of 120 workers at the hands of the police, and this situation was the catalyst for the first labor union for women’s rights.
Working conditions were deplorable for women, and particularly in sweatshops where there was little attention to safety. One clear example of the hazards that women faced was the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire that occured on March 25, 1911 in New York in which 146 women died. This occurred even after there had been a worker strike at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in 1909.
The Triangle factory was owned by Max Blanck and Isaac Harris, and they gave little care for the safety of their workers. Blanck and Harris had previously burned their buildings to collect insurance money, but the 1911 event demonstrated their lack of safety mechanisms. Most of the victims died as a result of neglected safety features and locked doors within the factory building. This event and the overall frustration of poor working conditions helped to galvanize movements to create change.
Later, in 1912, the “Bread and Roses Strike” successfully helped to reverse the reduction in pay for women and children in Massachusetts that would have made the difference between being able to have a meal or be hungry.
This was only the origin of the fight for women’s working rights, and this has inspired thousands of women to continue to work towards not only working rights but also equality among the genders.
In the past it might have seemed rare to see women taking a stance, marching and demanding that their rights be respected. In current times, however, various countries are united by the same desire to strengthen the role of women in society.
At #VibraLatina we come together to celebrate women, but we also call on our political leaders to continue to work to protect women and their rights. It would be beautiful to create a world in which gender discrimination would not exist, where women would not die at the hands of others and pay would be just..It is possible to build a world in which women could feel something as appearingly simple as EQUALITY.