Tuesday, March 8, 2011

International Women's Day Centenary 1911 - 2011

Liberally adapted from http://www.internationalwomensday.com, a global hub for sharing International Women's Day news, events and resources.
"International Women's Day has been observed since in the early 1900's, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies....In 1911, more than one million women and men attended International Women's Day rallies campaigning for women's rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination..."
 Oh yeah, that's some radical ideology, all right!  

My grandmother Mary Susan Parker nee Osie Mae Brown, also celebrates her 100th birthday this year, born May 1911.  Grandma Parker - as she is familiarly known - is a complex, nuanced, multi-faceted character who embodies many of the aspects of the last 100 years of American history, not to mention many things we celebrate on International Women's Day.

Born in Hungry Hollow, Missouri, hers is a rags-to-riches story complete with forced exodus at the age of thirteen from her family home to earn her own living; meeting the (much older) love of her life at seventeen; marriage and decampment to a New Deal farm just before WW II; enduring multiple miscarriages due to Rh factor; raising sheep and goats; cooking on a wood stove; baking in a wood-fired oven; losing her husband early to lung cancer; going to college and earning a bachelor's degree and teaching certificate after the age of 40; raising the youngest of her four children, during the turbulence of the 1960s.

Grandma was nine years old before women were given the right to vote, and at the age of twelve witnessed the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) proposed as an amendment to the United States Constitution, and introduced to Congress for the first time. At the age of  100, she - and the rest of us - still await passage.
"Among full-time wage and salary workers, women's weekly earnings as a percent of men's [have] increased from 62 percent in 1979 to 80 percent in 2009..."
No matter how you dress it up as progress, 80 cents on the dollar is not equality. Let's have as many more  International Women's Days as we need to, until we have *real* equality. Our daughters, sisters, cousins, granddaughters, nieces, and etc. deserve it, don't you think?