Throughout history, women have made considerable sacrifices to improve social, economic, and political structures around the world. Unfortunately, women’s accomplishments and struggles are repeatedly overlooked, and we rarely receive the recognition and compensation that we deserve. Although there have been improvements in the areas of workplace rights, suffrage, and education, there is still a glass ceiling that often prevents us from partaking in the most vital roles in our society, such as Presidents, CEOs and innovators. International Women’s Day commemorates the continuing struggle for women’s rights, gender equality, and recognition, and celebrates the strong women that have paved the way for next generations.
International Women’s Day was first recognized in remembrance of the International Women’s Garment Workers Union in 1909. Women have a history of fighting for safe working conditions, equal pay to their male counterparts, education, civil justice, reproductive rights, and peace and security. In the past, International Women’s day has been celebrated through marches, strikes, and discussions. This year, International Women’s day comes just over a month from the historic Women's March on Washington, giving it a much broader scale of participants.
The International Women’s Day campaign is asking women around the world to stand in solidarity with each other by vowing to #BeBoldForChange. Women, men, and non-binary people are encouraged to join forces with other members of their communities to be agents of change for the economic, social, and political equality for women around the world. The Women’s March organizers have also encouraged women to demonstrate their economic power and importance by removing themselves from their paid or unpaid work for the day. The Women’s March also recommends that women avoid shopping, except for at small, women-owned businesses. If you are unable to take the day off work, the Women’s March organizers encourages everyone to wear red, as it is the color of love and sacrifice.
While women have made great achievements in politics, political science, and national security, the number of women at the tables of power is still significantly lower than men. A 2015 report on gender and disarmament, for instance, showed that between 2010 and 2014, of 194 delegations to disarmament fora, 160 were majority male and less than 20 percent of all statements were given by women. We would not be surprised to see similar statistics across issue areas.
Women have a unique set of experiences, intellect, and knowledge of their communities that has been excluded from the political realm. Specifically, national security has historically been a topic exclusive to men, even though it is an issue that affects all humans. WAND is a women-created and women-led organization that promotes women as agents of change towards more just and progressive national security. Its staff consists of fierce and unwavering women leaders and intellectuals who use their extensive knowledge to advocate for a demilitarized nation, peace and security. Women-led organizations like WAND have made amazing accomplishments that are inspiring to young female advocates around the globe. I am pleased to be interning here and learning from these women leaders. WAND sets an example for what can be done when women join forces for a common cause, which is worth recognizing and celebrating on International Women’s Day.
Leah Barth WAND DC Intern