March 2011 Reflections




On this special day, which celebrates 100 years since the 1st International Womens' Day it is timely to think about the history of this day.

Women first began to use this day to highlight their call for action on their rights to vote.

The first Australian rally for IWD took place in the Sydney domain on 25th March 1928 and called for equal pay for equal work, together with a number of other conditions which were aimed at fairer conditions for women factory workers.

On the 50th anniversary of IWD in 1960 in Copenhagen, a declaration for the support for political, economic and social rights of women was passed.

During International Womens' Year in 1975, the United Nations officially recognized IWD and it was taken up by many governments who had not previously known of its existence. That year saw an immense number of special activities and events celebrating women and their achievements. Many books on women and their changing roles in society were published during this time and there was a proliferation of academic courses focusing on womens' studies. It was an exciting time of change for women.

As we look at womens' position in Australian society today, we see many changes in the number of women in the workforce, more women entering previously male dominated occupations and the emergence of women in leadership positions – even a female Prime Minister.

At the same time we also see women grappling with important decisions about whether to pursue a career or to start a family. The number of women in their thirties now who have spent years studying and establishing themselves in a job find themselves worrying about whether they have left it too late to have a family and contemplating the need for IVF. Despite all the advances for women and the greater number of choices we have now, it seems it is difficult to have everything we want in life and inevitably we have to choose between sometimes conflicting options. If we decide to have a family then maybe we will have to put our career on hold for a while and hope we will not be too disadvantaged when we return to work later.

When we think about women in other parts of the world, we can see that we are indeed lucky to have the choices we do. Women in Africa and other third world countries are struggling to survive natural disasters, poverty, violence and the impact of war on their communities. It is hard for us to imagine what daily life must be like for these women.

On this IWD, take some time to think about your own achievements. Think about your personal characteristics, the things you have had to overcome in your own life and the times you were able to draw on your strengths to help you move through a difficult experience or rise to a challenge. Celebrate your achievements and the important relationships in your life which have helped you to become the person you are now. You may want to consider some of the women who have inspired you – whether they be women in history or current figures you admire or significant women who have been family members or friends who have had an impact on you and your life.