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Do We Still Need International Women's Day?

by Lisa Diggs on Mar 08th 2011

Though many have still not heard of it, International Women's Day has been observed since the early 1900's.  Here in the U.S. that was a time when women were fighting for the right to vote. 

Now, we not only have that right, women around the world have held positions of power from Supreme Court Justices to Prime Ministers.  Women are now CEOs and CFOs of major corporations.  We are best selling authors, life-saving doctors, and soaring pilots. We not only star in movies and television, we own the production companies.  We are police officers, firefighters, professors, truck drivers, chefs, scientists, soldiers, and virtually everything in between.  As Miss Aretha would say, "Sisters are doin' it for themselves."

We choose whether we want to work or stay at home with kids.  We decide if we want to pursue a college education.  We make limitless choices day after day.  So, do we still need a day dedicated to women?

The easy answer is yes, of course we do.  After all, it's INTERNATIONAL Women's Day and clearly women in other countries do not have the massive advantages that we do here.  If that's your answer, I couldn't agree more.  Women are being oppressed, enslaved, and abused throughout the world, merely because they are female.  It's an abomination and must be stopped--not just on this day, but every day.

That alone is an important reason for IWD to continue to be touted.  Yet I also think it's important that we continue to acknowledge it here in the United States, and not just to support our global sisters.

At the top of this piece, I mentioned all of the amazing progress American women have made.  Hence, for starters, it's hardly a leap to agree that those triumphs are worth celebrating at least once a year.  Despite those hard fought victories, the stats between men and women are still woefully disproportioned.  Niether political party has ever put forth a female as their nominee for President of the United States.  There have only been 39 female Senators in our history, and currently only 17 of 100 are women.  Of the Fortune 500 companies, only 12 have female CEOs.  In other words, without droning on with even more statistics, right here in the U.S. we have a long way to go.  Yet, even that is not my biggest reason why I'm glad this day continues to exist.

It is well known that those who do not examine history are doomed to repeat it.  While we still have a tumultuous journey ahead, too much of the progress we have made is not known or understood by the upcoming generation.  There is significant value in comprehending and appreciating those who have come before us and paved the way, and that for me, is the other supreme value of this day.

If Myra Bradwell had not achieved justice and become a lawyer, there may not have been a place for Sandra Day O'Connor on the highest court in the land.  Without Harriet Quimby and Amelia Earhart to take rides of their own, the aptly named Sally Ride may never have taken her flight to space.  Before Brandi Chastain could celebrate her amazing World Cup soccer goal infamously sporting just a bra, Billie Jean King had to burn hers to achieve Title IX.  Heck, if Oprah Winfrey hadn't been wise enough to start her own production company and launch her name as a brand, would Paris Hilton be more than just a pretty heir to a hotel chain?

Turning dreams into reality comes as much from realizing what was formerly impossible as it does to conjuring them up in the first place.  If we want the daughters of this generation to soar to heights that we have yet to achieve, we need them to know what was once out of their grasp, and how it became within reach.  Share our history.  Happy International Women's Day!   


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