As Red Roomer Karen Tintori and others have reminded me, today is the 98th International Women's Day, a global day celebrating the economic, political, and social achievements of women past, present, and future.
In Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, China, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Russia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam, it is an official holiday, celebrated by giving small gifts and flowers to the women in one's life.
The notion took root when, in 1910, a woman named Clara Zetkin, the head of the Women's Office for the Social Democratic Party in Germany, put forth the idea at a conference of more than 100 women from 17 countries. She proposed that every year in every country there should be a celebration on the same day--a women's day--to press for their demands. The conference greeted Clara's suggestion with unanimous approval and, thus, International Women's Day was conceived and then launched the following year.
I'm almost ashamed to admit I'd never even heard of this day until I lived in Jordan. Perhaps that's the privilege of being born in a wealthy country at a time when the successes of Clara and her kind were already part of the social fabric.
But my book was published less than two weeks before International Women's Day in 2007. The Australian ambassador to Jordan, His Excellency Trevor Peacock, invited me to his villa in Abdoun to celebrate the day through formal presentations, discussions, schmoozing, noshing, and refreshments. It was a pleasant affair. His Excellency and his wife were gracious, warm hosts. I met a lot of people. But I walked back to my hotel feeling vaguely "off." I wondered why my own embassy hadn't planned an event--or, if it did, why word hadn't gotten out. Or, better yet, what about a home-grown effort? Something focused and sustained.
This year, I'm not feeling very celebratory. A woman who lived in upstate New York had her head hacked off by her husband. Rihanna's apparently back with Chris Brown. The father/murderer of the beautiful Said sisters of suburban Dallas is still on the run after more than a year. We still can't get a woman elected to the top office of the land. In my professional lifetime, women have made almost no progress in reaching the top slots at Fortune 500 companies. And yet I am fully aware that women in this country have it so much better than what is typical in this world.
So, I'd like to pose the question: What is on your wish list for women? Someone else start. . .I'll chime in. . .everyone (men, too) can pile on.
Causes Ellen Sheeley Supports
For All Women Foundation