Today marks the 101st International Women’s Day.
The first Women’s Day was organized by the Socialist Party of America in 1909 to protest poor working conditions in garment factories in New York City. In 1910, The Socialist International Meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark declared an International Women’s Day to build universal support for the women’s suffrage movement.
With each successive year of commemoration, more and more countries began to adopt and adapt International Women’s Day to their respective cultures. In Russia it’s tradition to give flowers to mothers, daughters, wives, girlfriends, and even female co-workers or teachers. In the United Sates, International Women’s Day is not a federal holiday, but last year, President Obama declared March Women’s History Month.
The United Nations recognized International Women’s Day in 1975, helping to refocus the day on the original theme of women’s rights and participation in political and economic arenas. In some countries, International Women’s Day has become a reflection on the progress that’s been made, while in other countries it remains a day to rally and make public demands for basic rights. Last year, Egyptian women honoring International Women’s Day with a march from Tahrir Square were met with harassment from men who disagreed with their message of equality.
No matter the type of commemoration, celebratory or confrontational, music is a powerful tool for any social movement and is central to many International Women’s Day programs. Thousands of artists, both famous and lesser known, are participating in celebrations, commemorations and rallies around the world. Kudos these performers for taking the stage in the name of empowering women and girls!
Here are a few clips from some of the artists on International Women’s Day agendas:
Yesterday, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) hosted an inaugural concert at their headquarters in Paris, France featuring Morrocan soul singer Oum and Malian Afro-Reggae artist Bafing Kul. Oum combines soul, gospel and jazz with Hassany poetry from Moroccan desert culture.
Bafing Kul’s songs deal with human rights and feminist issues inspired by child slavery, female excision, and political corruption in his native Mali.
One of the largest celebrations of International Women’s Day will take place in London at the Women of the World Festival with musical performances by Sinead O’Connor, Sarah Gillespie, and Emily The Great.