By Women’s Spirituality Graduate Studies Program March 8, 2020
Celebrate International Women’s Day with Us!
“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” – 19th Amendment, ratified in 1920.
The First Wave of the women’s liberation movement in the latter 19th and early 20th centuries grew out of the abolitionist movement of the early 19th century and strove for greater human rights for women, including better working conditions for working women, reproductive rights, the end to slavery, the right to vote, women’s property rights, an end to domestic violence, the right to divorce, and much more.
This year we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the historic 19th amendment. Although this legislation did not grant all women the right to vote, as is often claimed, it did mark an important step toward universal suffrage, a goal that we are still striving to achieve as voter suppression continues to this day. The early 20th century also brought the idea of a “Women’s Day,” developed by socialist feminists who sought to draw attention to women’s struggles for suffrage and equity. In 1975, the United Nations agreed upon March 8 as the day to recognize women’s contributions as well as our continued political struggles.
Today, International Women’s Day continues to serve as a reminder of both how far women have come – and how much more needs to be done to create Equiterra, a world where gender equality reigns supreme.
The rise of nationalisms and fundamentalisms across the globe threaten to erode many of the gains that women have made, while economic inequity and ecological destruction loom over us all. Yet the resurgence of women’s activism and political participation in the last few years gives us hope that, despite the setbacks, we will persist in our efforts to create a socially and ecologically just future.
In the US, we’ve seen unprecedented numbers of women – and particularly women of color – join Congress; yet the US ranks 75th globally in women’s representation in governments; and it is in 51st place among 149 industrialized countries, according to the 2019 Global Economic Forum, in its "gender gap." Meanwhile, women’s grassroots activism is growing stronger. Female climate change activists around the world are becoming ever more vocal. Women in Africa have largely succeeded in outlawing the practice of female genital cutting. In Ireland, a strict constitutional ban on abortion was lifted in 2018 – the same year that India celebrated the decriminalization of homosexuality.
There is a strong movement against sexual assault in South America and against femicide in Mexico. And the #metoo and other eco-social-justice movements in the US continue to change the ethos and practices of female and male relationships. These and other gains for women’s and individual rights would not have been attained without the persistent activism of women and our allies.
While we in the Women’s Spirituality graduate studies program honor the symbolic importance of International Women’s Day, for us, every day is women’s day. Today and every day, we honor and affirm all women – including working-class women, disabled women, trans women, undocumented women, older women, and women of all colors and identities, particularly those who may be overlooked by the mainstream media. We recognize not only women’s economic and political realities, but also celebrate women’s spiritual resilience and contributions to our world.
As we envision the future of women’s movements in our world, we invite you to check out Alka Arora’s recent podcast, On Feminism’s Fourth Wave, and to stay tuned for the recording of Eahr Joan’s 2020 International Women’s Day Lecture, Healing Modalities: Re-Claiming Our Black/Brown HerStories from 3,000,000 BCE to the Present. We are also excited to announce that Annette Williams will be a keynote speaker at the upcoming Association for the Study of Women and Mythology Conference in New Mexico.
Please join us in celebrating women, today and every day!
Annette Williams, Alka Arora, and Mara Lynn Keller
Women’s Spirituality Graduate Studies Program
Photo Credit: Cynthia Mitchell, Alumni Relations Manager, CIIS Alumni Services