International Women’s Day dates back to March 8, 1857, when textile workers on New York’s Lower East Side demonstrated for their rights. These workers, like so many others throughout the world and across time, have demonstrated that by organizing, women can unite their voices, make visible their working and living conditions and win the changes necessary for a sustainable, just, and more stable world.
On this day, and throughout March, IUF affiliates will take a variety of actions to continue building on this critical legacy:
- In response to growing insecurity, rising militarism and the threat to peace, affiliates in Asia-Pacific are focusing on the theme Women Workers for Peace; the call for peace is not only a response to war and militarism, but also to the increase in racial, ethnic, and religious intolerance and violence faced by women in the workplace and in their communities
- In Africa, affiliates are mobilizing to break the silence on the multifaceted violence that women and girls face every day for a just, sustainable, and peaceful world; underlining the relevance of the theme of the annual conference of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, they are also calling on states to protect the rights of women and girls in digital spaces and address gender-based violence online in order to create a more inclusive digital world
- In Latin America, affiliates are focusing on the fight against gender-based violence both at work and at home; the women trade unionists of the Latin American Women’s Committee (Clamu) are determined to continue their work of consciousness-raising and empowerment across the region
- In Europe and North America, International Women’s Day represents an opportunity to highlight the roles of trade unions in the fight against violence as well as the fight for equal pay both in wages and in pensions; affiliates will also spotlight how union membership is the best defense against discrimination at work
IUF Women’s Committee Chair Patricia Alonso stated, “As we lift up the voices of women workers around the world, let us remember two of the greatest voices in our struggle who have recently passed away: sister Ela R. Bhatt, founder of the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in India, and sister Myrtle Witbooi, President of the International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF). May they rest in power.”