The tragic ‘Triangle Fire’ in New York City took the lives of more than 140 working women, most of them Italian and Jewish immigrants. This disastrous event drew significant attention to working conditions and labour legislation in the United States that became a focus of subsequent International Women’s Day events. On the eve
of World War I campaigning for peace, Russian women observed their first International Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February 1913. Since then, International Women’s Day has grown to become a global day of recognition and celebration across developed and developing countries alike.
Great improvements have been made. We do have female astronauts and prime ministers, school girls are welcomed into university, women can work and have a family, women have real choices. And so the tone and nature of IWD has, for the past few years, moved from being a reminder about the negatives to a celebration of the positives.
Times have changed, but sadly some of the key issues have not. Gender-based violence causes more deaths and disabilities among women worldwide, aged 15-44, than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war, and three million women across the UK experience rape, domestic violence, trafficking, forced marriage or other violence each year.
Only 19% of the world’s parliamentary seats are held by women and men still make up nearly 80% of the House of Commons. Women do two-thirds of the world’s work, yet receive 10% of the world’s income and own 1% of the means of production. The full-time pay gap between women and men in the UK is equivalent to men being paid a full year whilst women effectively work for free after November. Only 24% of the people interviewed, heard, seen or read about in mainstream broadcast and print news are female.