By HANNAH KATO
Every year on March 8 people celebrate International Women’s Day to advocate for an improvement of the status of women and to praise the many achievements of women over the centuries.According to the “International Women’s Day” website by Aurora Ventures, a non-profit organization, the idea of International Women’s Day first came from Clara Zetkin, a leader of the Women’s Office of the German Social Democratic Party. During the second International Conference of Working Women, Zetkin proposed that International Women’s Day should be celebrated every year on the same day in every country.
The international conference was held in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1910 with more than 100 women from 17 countries in attendance. The proposal was approved unanimously. The following year, more than one million people attended International Women’s Day on March 19 to demand the rights to work, vote, have job training, hold public office and eliminate discrimination.
Today International Women’s Day is celebrated by many organizations and people around the world, but is still fairly unknown by many in America.
“A few years ago about 20 School Sisters of Notre Dame celebrated the day by going out to eat,” said Sister Jan Gregorcich, SSND. “It attracted attention and people asked what we were celebrating. We told them International Women’s Day. They had never heard of it.”
Sister Linda Marie Bos, SSND and chair of the Mount Mary College history department, attributed the lack of women’s awareness about International Women’s Day to a general lack of knowledge about the celebration and of time.
“Many American women are focused on their lives and are involved in their personal world,” Bos said. “They have their hands full, and this is why they are not aware of the status of women in other parts of the world. They don’t know the history of women in the U.S. It is more than just getting the right to vote.”
The School Sisters of Notre Dame sponsor several luncheons across the country throughout the month of March to bring together women leaders and colleagues. In Elm Grove, the luncheon will take place March 8 at 11:30 a.m.
The speakers attending the luncheon are recognized leaders who are invited to share personal anecdotes and insights related to their experiences. They will explore how faith-based leadership styles and models have contributed to their accomplishments. They will also have the option to discuss particular issues that women leaders are interested in and to suggest how women can move that issue toward positive systemic change.
The featured speaker for the Elm Grove luncheon is Denae D. Davis, chief executive officer at PEARLS for Teen Girls, a Milwaukee-based non-profit organization that uses a nationally recognized model for girl empowerment and leadership development for adolescent girls ages 10-19.
Even more locally, Student Engagement is hosting an International Women’s Day photo shoot on March 4, from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in Notre Dame Hall, room 464. It is free, and no registration is needed. Students will get a personal copy of their photo, and the pictures will be on display in the Alumnae Dining Room Hallway on March 7 to represent the women of Mount Mary.
“We are looking for every Mount Mary student to participate in our International Women’s Day celebration by having their photo and bio displayed to represent the beautiful and unique women of this campus,” said Amy Danielson, director of Student Engagement.