International Women’s Day!

Today, March 8th, 2012 marks the 101st International Women’s Day and what better way to celebrate it then spending the day in strategic planning for Women Moving Millions, then to cocktails with members and other fabulous women, the opening sessions of “Women In the World” ( Tina Brown Madeleine Albright, Angelina Jolie),  and then to dinner with some of the most amazing women ( and friends) on the planet.

My personal mission, the mission of Women Moving Millions, and so many people and organizations is to work FOR the advancement of women and girls. ADVANCEMENT!  Today I am feeling very optimistic.  I have been one to say that movement, the movement, has stalled.  But I am not saying that anymore. As I approached Lincoln center to see the line-up of women going around the block to get in to the conference I thought, evidence! But it goes way deeper then that.  I am truly feeling a shift in consciousness which will soon lead to a shift in behavior, which will hopefully lead to systematic changes in the way our world works.  What is behind this shift? Women individually and collectively coming to the realization about how much power we have to change the world. “Power unused is power useless” – Gloria Feldt.

To celebrate Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day there are events being held all over the globe. Join Me on the Bridge” is a campaign for women’s equality that started with Rwandan and Congolese women, who met on a bridge joining their two countries as a demonstration that women could build bridges of peace. This year, women will march on bridges in London, Boston, San Francisco, Toronto and New York for International Women’s Day (Washington Post). The Guardian has put together a Top Ten list of women facts and the Washington Post has listed the Top Ten ways to celebrate International Women’s Day. There are even 10 reason why feminism is good for boys and men, which was printed by the Huffington Post. But what is International Women’s Day?

The first national Women’s Day was observed on February 28, 1909 in the United States. The Socialist Party of America designated that day in honor of the 1908 New York garment workers’ strike, where women protested against working conditions. According to the UN “the Socialist International meeting in Copenhagen established a Women’s Day, international in character, to honor the movement for women’s rights and to build support for achieving universal suffrage for women. The proposal was greeted with unanimous approval by the conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, which included the first three women elected to the Finnish Parliament. No fixed date was selected for the observance.  As a result of the Copenhagen initiative, International Women’s Day was marked for the first time (19 March) in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, where more than one million women and men attended rallies. In addition to the right to vote and to hold public office, they demanded women’s rights to work, to vocational training and to an end to discrimination on the job.” It wasn’t until 1975 that March 8th was officially designated as International Women’s Day by the UN.

Fast forward 100 years to 2011 which marked the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day where over 100 countries held events to celebrate IWD. President Barack Obama officially marked March 2011 as Women’s History Month. The UN beautifully captures what this day is all about on their website,”This date is also commemorated at the United Nations and is designated in many countries as a national holiday. When women on all continents, often divided by national boundaries and by ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic and political differences, come together to celebrate their Day, they can look back to a tradition that represents at least nine decades of struggle for equality, justice, peace and development.” The theme for 2012 International Women’s Day posted by the UN is “Empower Rural Women: End Hunger and Poverty.” There Facts and Figures: Rural Women and the Millennium Development Goals can be found here.

Below you can find a few milestones and many more can be found here

  • 1848 U.S. Women’s Rights Movement is sparked at a convention in Seneca Falls, New York. Delegates issue a Declaration of Sentiments calling for equality with men, including the right to vote. [Milestones]
  • 1870  Ellen Swallow Richards is the first woman in America accepted to any school of science and technology (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).  She becomes a pioneer in sanitary engineering and a founder of home economics in the United States. [Milestones]
  • 1900  Golfer Margaret Abbott is the first American woman to win a medal in the Olympics.  At the Paris games, she takes the gold medal. [Milestones]
  • 1920 The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the right to vote, becomes law when it is ratified by two-thirds of the states. The League of Women Voters is founded. [Milestones]
  • 1933 Eleanor Roosevelt transforms the role of first lady during her husband Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidency. She is the first president’s wife to hold regular press conferences and go on the lecture circuit, and her social activism gives a voice to the powerless: minorities, women and disadvantaged. [Milestones]
  • 1955 Rosa Parks is arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white man, thus sparking the U.S. civil rights movement. [Milestones]
  • 1972 Title IX of the Education Amendments bans sex discrimination in schools. Enrollment of women in athletics programs and professional schools increases dramatically. [Milestones]
  • 1984 Geraldine Ferraro becomes the first woman nominated for vice president by a major party (Democrat) when she is selected as Walter Mondale’s running mate. [Milestones]
  • 1995 Lieutenant Colonel Eileen Collins is the first woman to pilot a space shuttle. In 1999, she becomes the first woman to command a space shuttle. [Milestones]
  • 2005 Condoleezza Rice is the first African-American woman to serve as U.S. secretary of state. [Milestones]
  • 2008 Danica Patrick won in the Indy Japan 300, beating favorite (and “Dancing with the Stars” champion) Helio Castroneves. This was the first win by a woman in Indy Car, Formula One, or NASCAR Sprint Cup. (
  • 2009 Enactment of the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act 
  • 2011 Women Ski Jumping officially becomes a Winter Olympic sport. Ski jumping was the only sport in the Winter or Summer Games that did not offer events for women. [New York Times]

So let me throw out just a couple milestones which I hope we reach in my lifetime.

– We have an amazing woman President of the United States

– Women are 30% ( going to 50%) of bench marked leadership roles – Political, CEOs, Corporate Board Members, C- Suite Execs…

– We have eliminated the women’s pay gap

– The numbers of women who experience violence in their life time DROPS SIGNIFICANTLY

– We understand  that women’s heart disease is not men’s heart disease and thus diagnosis and care improves significantly

– We find a cure for breast cancer, heck all forms of cancer

– Men who choose to be stay at home dads are accepted and celebrated

…. of my gosh I could go on for ever but it is already 1 am.

Let me end with this.  On this very special day let’s truly imagine a world where women and girls are fully valued, respected, have opportunity and can walk this earth without fear of harm or harassment. Now let’s work together, harder, to make it so.


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