International Women's Day
Posted on March 8, 2017
Today marks International Women’s Day, a global event where every person can play a part in helping to celebrate the successes of other women and fight for continued equal opportunity. IWD traces back to 1908, when 15,000 women marched through the streets of New York, fighting for their rights. Over a century later, people from across the world come together on this day to demand equality for women everywhere.
In celebration, we look back at some of the most influential female activists through history and activists in the 21st century, all doing it for the ladies!
"Virtue can only flourish among equals."
British philosopher, feminist and writer of “A Vindication of the Rights of Women”, one of the most significant books in the early feminist movement. She was a true pioneer in the struggle for female suffrage.
‘Angel of the workers’
Scottish union activist who fought for equal pay and women's rights, focusing on those working in appalling conditions in munition factories. In her honor, a blue plaque will be placed on her house in Golders Green for 2017’s International Women’s Day.
"We are here not because we are law-breakers; we are here in our efforts to become law-makers" Pankhurst
One of the first waves of feminism, the suffragettes fought for women’s rights, most significantly the right to vote. Their movements and protests were both peaceful and radical, and through their actions in 1920 women were given their right to vote. Some of the most influential in the movement were Millicent Fawcett, Emily Davidson, Emmeline Pankhurst, Alice Blackwell and Susan Anthony.
"It is designed to show that social equality with man is necessary for the free growth and development of woman’s nature."
Author of ‘A Plea for Women’, an influential book that argued that the advancement of women was not a threat to society, and giving women education and the ability to vote would benefit the whole of humanity.
"People call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute."
As a British suffragette, West was seen as a legend during the 20’s, 30’s & 40’s for her outspoken feminist and socialist speeches and writing. She was featured on the cover of Time magazine, which called her "indisputably the world's No. 1 woman writer."
“No woman gets an orgasm from shining the kitchen floor.”
Author of The Feminine Mystique, the book challenges the myth that women wanted to be homemakers, her writing helped to kick start the second wave of feminism. In 1966 she co-founded the National Organization for Women.
"A feminist is anyone who recognises the equality of full humanity of women and men."
One of the most recognisable 20th century feminists. Co-founder of Ms. Magazine with Alice Walker, Steinem has been at the forefront of the feminist movement in the US since the early 60’s as a key women's rights figure and activist.
"I'm no longer accepting the things I cannot change...I'm changing the things I cannot accept."
An American activist who became a part of the Black Panther Party in the 1960s. She was also heavily involved in the Civil Rights Movement, and became a leader in the Communist Party. A key figure in women’s history, she is still deeply involved in the quest for social justice.
"A punk is someone who knows how to ask the world uncomfortable questions and does everything possible to make sure the world can't cop out of answering those questions. A punk is a person who lives and breathes astonishment. Astonishing other people and astonishing yourself — that's what art is for us, and without art, life can't exist. It would be too boring."
Russian feminist punks Pussy Riot, became a global cause after their performance of a "punk prayer" at a Moscow cathedral. Two members were then jailed, which gained international attention calling for their release.
“We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.”
Willing to stand up to an oppressive regime in order to protect her right to education, Pakistani schoolgirl Yousafzai survived being shot in the head by the Taliban and has become a global figure for women’s rights, especially the right to education. At the age of 19, she is now a feminist icon for a new, younger generation.
As well as all of these incredible women Emma Watson, Hilary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Caitlin Moran, Lena Dunham and Angelina Jolie to name a few, are some of the voices we hear today helping to create political, economic and cultural achievements in aid of women all over the world.
Let’s help fight for a better, gender inclusive world. No matter how big or small, your actions for gender equality can be groundbreaking, let’s #BeBoldForChange!
Words: Mary Costello