By Aylenn Minaya
March 8 is a commemoration, not a celebration
Sadly, in Ecuador and around the world, many people still believe that March 8 is a day for celebration, but this is not the case.
It’s time we change that.
Most people don’t know the history and the background about what really happened on this day. So we’d like to tell you the real story:
International Women’s Day originally was borne of the 19th century labor movement, specifically because of the inconsistencies and nonconformities that were common in industry at that time. It was a moment when women started to raise their voices to demand their rights.
It is important to remember history and to realize how women lived at that age, how they were limited compared to men who could do everything that they wanted.
Among other restrictions, women did not have the right to vote, the power to manage their own finances, or even to pursue education as a means to achieve a better life.
My voice will rumble
At the end of the 19th century, the Industrial Revolution became known as a period that changed the economy and the way people work. And yet, women’s issues had not yet been resolved. Many were treated like slaves and found no support in the legal system.
On March 8, 1908, a momentous event marked the history of labor and the labor struggle throughout the world. About 15,000 women marched through the streets of New York. Their requests were the same as they had been years before, with the difference that they also demanded that child labor be banned.
The fight continues
But this didn’t stop them. In fact, it gave them courage and lit their desire to fight for their ideals. And years later, it led them to create their first union to fight for their rights.
On March 8, 1908, a momentous event marked the history of labor and the labor struggle throughout the world. About 15,000 women marched through the streets of New York. Their requests were the same as years ago, with the difference that they also demanded that child labor be banned.
Voices from beyond
That year, their protests ended in tragedy. A strike at the Triangle Shirtwaist cotton factory in New York City led to the death of 129 women in a fire.
The factory owner had ordered the doors of the building to be closed so that the women would desist and leave the premises. In the end, however, that wasn’t how it turned out.
The death of these workers inside the factory set the stage for annual March 8 conmemorations around the world.
But how has the struggle been in Ecuador?
In Ecuador, feminist movements have taken their struggle to the streets in search of gender equality since the 20th century.
In 1939, the Ecuadorian Women’s Alliance managed to solidify itself to fight for peace and against Nazism in World War II.
In 1960 the National Union of Women of Ecuador (UNME) was created and in the 70s the Revolutionary Union of Women of Ecuador (URME) was created.
Today the women’s movement continues to grow. It has expanded rapidly and continuously in the achievement of its objectives.
Every March 8 the organizations take to the streets to make themselves heard, to demand their rights and their safety, to raise their voices for those who are no longer here, and to demand justice on their behalf.
They have come together, regardless of their sexual orientation, economic level, or ethnicity, to create a solid movement. Among their goals are sexual and reproductive rights, support to stop violence as well as the physical, sexual and economic abuses against them.
They have come together because together they are stronger.
Women’s rights are human rights.” – Hillary Clinton