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International Women’s Day is a celebration and a call to action

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International Women’s Day is a celebration and a call to action

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Women around the world will demand equal pay, reproductive rights, education, justice, empowered jobs and other essential needs during demonstrations to mark International Women’s Day on Friday.

Officially recognized by the United Nations in 1977, this date is commemorated in different ways and to varying degrees in places around the world. Protests are often political, and sometimes violent, and stem from women’s efforts to improve their rights as workers.

Mobilizations are planned from Tokyo to Mexico City, and this year’s global theme is “Inspire inclusion.”

Here’s what you should know about March 8:

WHAT IS INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY?

International Women’s Day is a global celebration, and a call to action, marked by demonstrations, mostly by women, around the world, ranging from combative protests to charity runs. Some celebrate economic, social and political achievements, while others call on governments to ensure equal pay, access to healthcare, justice for victims of gender-based violence and education for girls.

It is a holiday in more than 20 nations, including Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Ukraine, Russia and Cuba, the only one in America.

As in other aspects of life, social networks play an important role during this day, especially by amplifying attention to mobilizations in countries with repressive governments towards women and dissent in general.

WHEN DID IT START AND WHY IS IT MARCH 8?

Although the idea of ​​a women’s day emerged from the United States Socialist Party in 1909, it was a German feminist who promoted a global commemoration during an international conference of socialist women held in Copenhagen in 1910. The following year, there were different events throughout Europe and during the First World War (1914-1918) women used the date to protest against the armed conflict.

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It is celebrated on March 8 due to the massive protest registered in Russia on February 23, 1917, which led to the country’s withdrawal from the IGM. At that time, Russia had not adopted the Gregorian calendar – named after Pope Gregory XIII, who introduced it in 1582 – and was still using the Julian calendar, created by Julius Caesar and still used in Orthodox churches for their religious rites.

“On February 23 in Russia, which was March 8 in Western Europe, women took to the streets to demand bread and peace,” said Kristen Ghodsee, professor and chair of Russian and East European Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Among the protesters were widows, wives and mothers of men killed and wounded in the war. “The authorities could not stop them, and then, once the men saw that the women were in the street, all the workers began to leave and join them.”

The UN began celebrating the date in 1975, which was International Women’s Year, and the General Assembly officially recognized it two years later.

ARE FLOWERS AND CANDY WELCOME?

It depends on the time and place.

For years in Eastern Europe women have received flowers on March 8, and sometimes even have the day off from work. But chocolates and sweets can seem like condescending gestures that show a lack of understanding of the issues that drive women to protest, especially in regions where mobilizations have been combative.

Last year, Turkish women defied an official ban on demonstrations on that day in Istanbul for about two hours, until police used tear gas to disperse the crowd and made dozens of arrests. And in Mexico City, dozens of people were injured during the 8M 2021 demonstration, after participants confronted police in the capital’s main square with stones, bottles, metal sticks, spray paint and improvised flamethrowers with aerosols.

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Online sellers, for their part, have been using International Women’s Day for years to sell clothing, greeting cards, tote bags, stickers, trivia games, cupcake toppers and a wide variety of purple items with 8M theme.

The Internet also offers a multitude of guides for companies to take advantage of the occasion, from cupcakes or thank you emails, to product packages and offers on social networks for their current or potential customers. But these initiatives have had mixed success.

In 2018, McDonald’s rotated its iconic logo to form a W on its social media accounts and at one of its California stores, a marketing move that was criticized online as an empty gesture and that led to calls for it to improve its operations instead. working conditions of its staff.

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR MARCH 8?

Ghodsee noted that commemorating International Women’s Day is now more important than ever, since some of the progress made in the last century has been lost. One of the most notable was the 2022 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that overturned abortion rights nationwide, ending constitutional protections that had been in place for nearly 50 years.

“I think women around the world, before (Donald) Trump became president — when Hillary Clinton was running for president, Sheryl Sandberg was writing “Lean In” and it was all girlboss feminism — we didn’t know how quickly it could all that disappears,” he said.

The US decision on abortion has reverberated across the European political landscape, forcing the issue to be reintroduced into public debate in some countries at a time when far-right nationalist parties are gaining influence.

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As of Monday, France is the only country in the world to explicitly guarantee abortion as a constitutional right, a historic decision proposed by President Emmanuel Macron and praised by women’s rights activists around the world.

“We owe a moral debt to women,” the country’s Prime Minister Gabriel Attal said before the vote during a special joint session of parliament, which ended with a long standing ovation from lawmakers.

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