October 24, 2020

From A to Z: A Brief Dictionary of Feminism


MARCH 8

The commemorative dates are used to denounce discrimination, raise awareness about specific issues or draw attention to unsolved problems.

Feminism has as one of its identity marks the celebration of March 8, International Women’s Day. We have been screaming to the world for more than a century, its shame, which half of humanity has been and is still subjugated, discriminated against, violated, erased from history. On that day, from big cities to villages around the world are filled with commemorative events. In some places they are massive, in others a small number of women take to the streets, but in all the subordination, exploitation and discrimination that we endure are broken down. Here is her story,. our history.

Many dates could have been chosen, either any of the publication of works fundamental to feminism, or the date of birth or death of any of those who fought for our rights; or in memory of historical landmarks, such as when Olympe de Gouges read his Declaration of the rights of women and citizens or the beginning of the long fight for the right to vote. There are many, many displays of courage, many actions, and many women’s names to choose from.

Women, secluded in the domestic sphere, had a difficult time imposing an international date. Powerful organizations with the capacity to mobilize thousands of people were needed, and these were male social structures. That is why, since 1848, with an increasingly important leftist and labor movement, feminist women belonging to leftist unions and parties, all with the common agenda of the right to women’s suffrage along with labor rights, have succeeded. Clara Zetkin and Rosa Luxemburg, among others, were the ones who promoted a commemorative date for women’s claims.

At the Second International Conference of Socialist Women, held in Copenhagen in 1910, with more than one hundred delegates from 17 countries, Clara Zetkin called to celebrate women’s claims every year. In 1911, on March 19, over a million women and men demonstrated in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland. In Russia, powerful feminists like Alexandra Kollontai, Inessa Armand and Nadia Krúpskaia launched a major demonstration for the rights of women workers on March 8, 1913.

After the break that marked the First World War, the celebration of Women’s Day resumed, already on March 8. What has remained as the “official story” is that on March 8, 1908, at the Cotton factory in New York, 129 workers on strike and locked up there were burned to death by a fire caused by the boss. In reality, the dates and the struggles fluctuate, but it is true that in those times the demonstrations and strikes multiplied and in almost all of them there were deaths, because the conquest of liberties and rights has always been watered with unruly, rebellious and revolutionary.

Over the years it was called International Women’s Day, because every woman, regardless of social class or the country where she was born, the color of her skin or her age, regardless of other oppressions that cross us, we suffer the same basis of oppression due to the fact that women were born.

In our country, it was held on March 8 during the Second Republic and was resumed since 1977, changing the claims as we were conquering rights. For many years they have been protesting, radical, joyous and provocative demonstrations, but always in a range that varied between 3,000 and 6,000 attendees. Her organization was run by a multitude of feminist groups that coordinated for unity of action.

Feminism has always been an international movement, with connections between different countries. This has enabled, at the proposal of Argentina and Poland, in 2017 and 2018 for International Women’s Day, feminist care, labor and consumer strikes were also called, uniting thousands of women of all sectors and ages. The success in Spain has been unquestionable and the protests already called 8M were followed by millions of women, from big cities to the last inhabited town.

Nina Parron

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