the World Together
his week on March 8th, we celebrated International Women’s Day, an event that dates back more than one hundred years. It’s incredible to think that long before the internet, radio and television, women already shared a global consciousness and a common cause across cultures and borders.
We’ve certainly come a long way since the first International Women’s Day in 1911, and I think we’re all feeling ready to push forward towards even more progress. Looking back, it’s clear that when women take action, the world changes for the better.
We at Divine Living were fully inspired by the Women’s March earlier this year, as it reminded us of how powerful women can be when we work together. Need more convincing? Ahead, a peek at five of the most momentous women-led movements in history.
One of the first and most famous Women’s protests in history also happens to be the earliest and most significant event in the French Revolution. While Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI were sitting pretty in Versailles, in the markets of Paris women were growing increasingly outraged over the high price and scarcity of bread. Unable to feed their families, they banded together and amassed a crowd of seven thousand women who would walk six hours to the palace in the autumn rain. The Women’s March on Versailles showed the people of France their true power. Revolutionaries took the king and queen prisoner the very next day.
Okay sure—it was mainly men who fought wars and passed laws to abolish slavery. But at the inception of the abolitionist movements in the UK and the US, you’ll find the boundless compassion and energy of women. As early as the 1820s, British and American women were penning abolitionist essays and becoming visible in the cause. Not waiting around for men, both black and white women women organized early boycotts, gave lecture tours, aided fugitive slaves and circulated antislavery literature. In the US, great activists like Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Lucretia Mott and the Grimke Sisters stepped forward to lead the way. Women stirred up so much attention around the issue that the Southern Literary Messenger referred to them as “politicians in petticoats.”
In the US, we are coming up on the hundredth anniversary of the 19th Amendment—in which women were finally granted voting rights—and it took almost a century of dedicated activism for us to get it. The campaign for suffrage sprung out of the abolition movement, as women saw a serious need to have a say in how the world is run. The first Women’s Rights Convention in the US was held in 1840, organized by famous activists like Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, who met at the World Anti-Slavery conference in London. Their cause would be swept aside following the Civil War, but a new wave of energy beginning in the 1890s resulted in a unified campaign Under the leadership of Stanton’s new National American Woman Suffrage Association. The energy was global, and soon enough women would be working together for rights on the world stage.
In 1908, fifteen thousand women marched through the streets of New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and the right to vote. In remembrance, a National Women’s Day was honored across the United States. The next year at a conference in Copenhagen, it was decided that Women’s Day would be a global affair, promoting equal rights and suffrage for women everywhere. Even without Facebook, they managed to spread the word. In 1911 over a million people around the world celebrated the day with solidarity parades and marches. Over the century, women from Russia to Kuwait to Madrid have harnessed the global power of this day to push forward on a number of demands and causes. Since 1975 the day is promoted by the UN, who sets unifying goals and themes, and celebrated as an official holiday by over 100 countries. We’re coming up, ladies.
January 21st 2017 was one of those days where you really felt like you were experiencing herstory. In the US alone, an estimated three-to-five million people took to the streets, making it the largest one-day protest our country has ever seen, while millions more joined around the world. It was an entirely peaceful demonstration, attended by women and men of all ages. The energy of the march was to remind each other that as women, we are here, we stand together and we believe each other. We understand the ways the world has worked to hold us back, and we also recognize the power of our true potential. Where will our power take us next? We say let it infuse your every day. Remember all the women who’ve stood up for you over the centuries, and all your sisters around the world, and be proud of who you are. Now is our time to shine.