March the 8th is International Women’s Day around the world. I work on an English language newspaper, The International Denmark and just a month ago had been compiling the event listings for the month of March. From my extensive stalking of social media platforms, I could find no trace of IWD in the whole of Denmark and nothing registered on the official IWD website. With The International by my side I created one – a lovely one which ticked all the right boxes to celebrate women and girls, their limitless imagination, their joyous dreams and their boundless strength.
It’s ironic that there was nothing listed for Denmark, as way back in the beginnings of female activism in the early 20th century Copenhagen was the place in which a meeting of the Socialist International movement established an International Women’s Day in 1910. The focus then was on honouring the rights for women and to build support for universal suffrage (the right to vote) for women. The proposal was met with unanimous approval by the conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, which included the first three women elected to the Finnish parliament. In 1911, as a result of the Copenhagen initiative, International Women’s Day was marked for the first time on the 19thof March in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland. In addition to the right to vote, they demanded the right to hold public office, they demanded women’s rights to work, to vocational training and to an end to discrimination in the workplace. Between 1913 and 1914 IWD also became a mechanism for protesting against WW1. In time the date became fixed on the 8thof March.
International Women’s Day 2019 was a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. International Women’s Day is all about unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy, and action – whatever that looks like globally at a local level. But one thing is for sure, IWD has been occurring for well over a century – and continue’s to grow from strength to strength. For the assembled powerful female speakers, healers, coaches and proactive audience at International Day 2019 (Copenhagen) there was a feeling of great solidarity, joy, and hope. An embracing of the feminine; of intuition, of nurturing, of fairness and peace. The wish to continue breaking down walls, reeducating and building the future of the world into a safer, smarter, more mindful and KIND place for us, our daughters and their granddaughters. The day also marked a call to action for accelerating gender parity, with the key phrase of #BalanceforBetter to seek this elusive parity in the workplace, in the home, in schools and to walk into the future with our beloved menfolk by our sides, as equals. This process we support and contribute to not just on the 8th of March, but all year-long, and TOGETHER.
Denmark is one of the six countries in the world which offer equal legal work rights. It’s best to live and work in Belgium, Denmark, France, Latvia, Luxembourg or Sweden. With the rest of the world lagging behind, the United Nations has made now made it a goal to establish gender parity worldwide by 2030. Perhaps the comparative ease and equality of our lives as lucky caucasian women in Denmark has led to a lack of interest here in IWD this year? At our International Women’s Day 2019 (Copenhagen) we decided that any donations given would be used towards scholarships for girls in rural India, a scheme known as The Village School Project 2019. Offering a brighter, more balanced and safe future for little Putti and her classmates.
Donations from IWD 2019 towards The Village School Project 2019 came to 3,140 Danish Kroner or 33.511,8294 Indian Rupees
Heather Gartside – Founder
Secretary-General Of The United Nation’s Message for 2019:
Gender equality and women’s rights are fundamental to global progress on peace and security, human rights and sustainable development. We can only re-establish trust in institutions, rebuild global solidarity and reap the benefits of diverse perspectives by challenging historic injustices and promoting the rights and dignity of all.
In recent decades, we have seen remarkable progress on women’s rights and leadership in some areas. But these gains are far from complete or consistent – and they have already sparked a troubling backlash from an entrenched patriarchy.
Gender equality is fundamentally a question of power. We live in a male-dominated world with a male-dominated culture. Only when we see women’s rights as our common objective, a route to change that benefits everyone, will we begin to shift the balance.
Nationalist, populist and austerity agendas add to gender inequality with policies that curtail women’s rights and cut social services. In some countries, while homicide rates overall are decreasing, femicide rates are rising. In others we see a rollback of legal protection against domestic violence or female genital mutilation. We know women’s participation makes peace agreements more durable, but even governments that are vocal advocates fail to back their words with action. The use of sexual violence as a tactic in conflict continues to traumatize individuals and entire societies.
Against this backdrop, we need to redouble our efforts to protect and promote women’s rights, dignity and leadership. We must not give ground that has been won over decades and we must push for wholesale, rapid and radical change.
This applies equally to the digital future that is already upon us. Innovation and technology reflect the people who make them. The underrepresentation and lack of retention of women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and design should be a cause of concern to all.
Some Photographs of the day. Many thanks to our phenomenal women speakers: Heather Spears, Lyndsay Jensen of The International Denmark, Karey-Anne Duevang of Welcome Group Consulting, Maria Jessen-Petersen and Rikki Deephi of Quiet Zone Meditation centre, Jane Upward, Therese Christoffersen, Kathy Borys Siddiqui of Active Action, Sapna Anand, Sasha Knudsen, Sapna Oberoi Gagneja and our wonderful non-profit community venue, Cafe Cadeau