Monday, March 8, 2010

International Women's Day

Today is International Women's Day and I nearly forgot it. Somehow we don't have this long tradition and the day doesn't have this impact as it has in other countries. If my Russian colleagues hadn't made congratulations I wouldn't have taken much notice.
The first person to organize this day was actually a German woman, the German socialist Clara Zetkin (1857-1933) organized the first Internationaler Frauentag (International Women's Day, IWD) in 1911.
The date however goes back to a strike by Russian women textile workers in St. Petersburg on March 8, 1917. Although it was observed in the GDR (East Germany) until German reunification, the celebration of IWD in West Germany (by the SPD party) never caught on, and the date goes largely unnoticed by most Germans today. Unlike in other countries like Russia or Cuba it has never been a national holiday.
In the last years I noticed that restaurants were taking up the occasion for organizing Women's special evenings. There it is used primarily as another commercial possibility like Valentine's day or Halloween which hadn't been known as German traditions 10 years ago.
The main subject in Germany mentioned by the newspapers are the different wages for men and women. Women still get paid up to 25 % less in wages than men for the same kind of work.
Apart from equal rights and opportunities for women we still have to stand up against violence against women and girls which unfortunately belongs to the life of many female citizens all over the world.

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