From Dallas to New York City, we sounded the call to celebrate women’s achievements and to join together to work toward full equality for women.
Dallas Celebration of International Women’s Day: “Make It Happen”
In Dallas on March 7, we celebrated International Women’s Day. Rosemarie Rieger chaired the planning committee for this celebration with the theme “Make It Happen.” With people around the world, we celebrated the achievements of women while calling for greater equality.
Phyllis Goines gave an informative talk on the history of International Women’s Day (IWD), beginning in 1908 with 15,000 women marching through New York City demanding voting rights and better working conditions and pay. In 1911, more than a million women and men in many countries attended IWD rallies campaigning for women’s rights to work, vote, hold public office, and have full equality. IWD has continued annually since then in countries around the world. International Women’s Day is an official holiday in many countries, but not yet in the United States.
Pamela Reséndiz gave participants a quiz on issues affecting working women. Through this quiz we learned about the work that still must be done to achieve women’s equality:
- Women overall earn only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men.
- African American women earn only 64 cents for every dollar earned by white, non-Hispanic men.
- Latinas earn only 55 cents for every dollar earned by white men.
- Out of the wealthiest 20 countries in the world, the U.S. ranks 17 on gender equity.
- U.S. employers are not required by federal law to provide paid time off for workers to care for sick familly members.
- The percentage of private businesses with onsite child care centers is only 7%.
- The percentage of minimum wage workers who are women is 66%.
At the Dallas International Women’s Day celebration we formed circles to share our stories of navigating our ways through a patriarchal system. We also sang “Join Together, Work for Justice,” a hymn I wrote for women’s rights and workers’ rights, and heard beautiful, inspiring poetry spoken by edyka chilomé from her book She Speaks Poetry.
UN Commission on the Status of Women
The following week I spent in New York City at the UN Commission on the Status of Women continued to impress me with the amazing achievements of women even in the most difficult circumstances, the work still to be done to achieve gender equality, and the connection between women’s rights and workers’ rights.
The first session I attended on March 9, “Equality, Development & Peace: 2015 and Beyond,” sponsored by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership emphasized the inseparability of women’s rights and economic systems. The panelists at this session discussed ways that investors in many parts of the world exploit women and contribute to polluting the environment. They challenged us to hold companies accountable and not support those who don’t support women’s equality. They demonstrated the connection between militarism and global economic injustice and gender-based violence. The panel called for more women in positions of economic and political leadership around the world.
The Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) is working on these issues. CWGL envisions a world in which all people are equal and gender equality is systemically realized by the achievement of human rights for all. CWGL strengthens and facilitates women’s leadership for human rights and social justice worldwide.
Also, on March 9, I attended a session sponsored by Zonta International, a global organization of professionals empowering women worldwide through service and advocacy. The panelists at this session focused on ending violence against women. Women suffering violence have great difficulty achieving equality in any area of life. The panel emphasized the importance of partnering to end violence against women and children, making clear that violence is preventable when we join together and make it visible. We must say that no violence is acceptable; we must make the invisible visable. To end gender-based violence, social change is as vital as political change.
Zonta International is working to end violence against women and to achieve women’s equality. The goals of Zonta are to improve the economic, political, educational, legal, health, and professional status of women at the global and local levels; to promote justice and human rights and justice; and to advance goodwill and peace throughout the world.
Call Sounded Around the World
The call sounded by the voices of women in Dallas and New York and around the world is to join together to claim our collective power to achieve equal rights for women.