Tuesday, March 03, 2009

What's IWD all about?

Not too long ago, I did not know there was a day in the year dedicated to women. And even when I did eventually find out about International Women's Day, I had no clue which day it fell on.

It was only through writing a 20-page feature story on IWD for Vanilla magazine a year ago that I did some research on its history, and I came to understand that there were historical circumstances that led to the establishment of IWD.

As part of the Wonder Women in The Living Room series, I felt we had to include a segment on the history & background of International Women's Day because it forms the foundation of WHY we celebrate it.

To help shed some light on the matter, we invited Saleemah Ismail, President of UNIFEM Singapore (United Nations Development Fund for Women), to be our guest today. Saleemah shared that the first women's movement arose in 1909 when female garment workers took to the streets of New York City to demand for better wages.

That was exactly 100 years ago. It was very much an isolated event at the time, a response to unjust circumstances. But what was significant was that it was the first time women - who had no status or voice - banded together and stood up for their rights.

It was only in 1975 that the United Nations declared a Year of the Woman. And in 1977, the 8th of March was set aside each year to celebrate the contribution of women around the world. That marked the birth of IWD, as we know it.

To catch more of that conversation, tune in tonight at 11.10pm. It's a "palatable" history lesson for you, I promise.

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