International Women’s Day originated from women’s attempt to secure improved pay and working conditions, an end to child labour and an extension of the vote to women.
In March 1908, US women in the International Garment Workers’ Union took to the streets protesting against their intolerable working conditions.
Later that year, with the support of the Women’s Trade Union League, the first national Women’s day rally occurred. With the support of women all over the world, International Women’s Day was proclaimed March 8 in 1910. The first IWD rally in Australia took place in Sydney on 25 March 1928.
IWD, along with the mainstream women’s movement has been derided for focusing on the concerns of whiter, heterosexual, middle-class women, to the exclusion of the concerns of other women, such as Indigenous women, working-class women, queer women and women from non-English-speaking backgrounds.
IWD is still as relevant today as it was when it first began because women are still discriminated against and men still have most of the power.
-60 out of 226 current Federal politicians are women.
-2 out of the 17 federal cabinet members are women
-5 of the 19 state cabinet members are women
-14 of 26 Brisbane city councilors are women.
-In business, in 2000, female directors held 1 in 10 board seats in Australia
-In 2000, women made up 13.7% of all non-executive directors and 2.9% of all executive directors
-Of the top 150 companies listed on the Australian stock exchange only 3 have female chief executives or the equivalent.
-There are 21 English-language national and metropolitan daily and Sunday newspapers in Australia’s capital cities. Of these 21, only 2 have a woman as Editor-in-Chief.
-80% of refugees are women and children.
-In 1990-96 male were eight times more likely than females to be the perpetrator of a homicide, while one out of three homicide victims is female.
-Average fulltime weekly earning of women is only about 80% of the average fulltime earnings of men.
-In 1995-96, 82% of complaints lodged under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 were made by women. Half the complaints were lodged on the grounds of sexual harassment and third on the grounds of sexual discrimination. 83% of complaints were related to employment issues and 11% connected with the provision of goods and services.