International Women's Day was born out of the Women's suffrage movement in
the United States in 1908 as "National Women's Day," and ratified as an official
international day in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1911. Since then, it has been
variously seen as a time to assert women's political and social rights, to review
the progress that women have made, as a day of celebration and unification.
On its 50th anniversary in 1960, delegates from 73 countries again convened
in Copenhagen, where they adopted a general declaration supporting the political,
economic and social rights of women. And in 1975 - deemed "International
Women's Year" at the height of the Women's Rights movement - International Women's
Day was given official recognition by the United Nations and taken up by many
governments who had not previously known of its existence. It was nearly two decades
later, in 1994, that Congress, urged on by Polish immigrant and Woman's Day USA
advocate Beata Pozniak, passed H.J. Resolution 316, at last making International
Women's Day official in the U.S.
March is Women's History Month
National Women's History Month grew out of a single week and a local event
begun in Sonoma County, California in 1978. Recognizing that, in order
to provide a more balanced understanding of our human experience, it was important
to include Women's History in their children's education, county leaders introduced
Women's History Week into their elementary and high school curriculum - selecting
the week starting March 8th which had by then become the official date for International
Women's Day. By 1981 the thought had caught on, and Congress passed a
resolution designating the week as a national celebration, later expanding it
to the full month of March in 1987.
The Art of LIVING Coalition's
Annual International Women's Day Events
The Art of LIVING Coalition began producing
its annual International Women's
Day Celebrations in 1999, out of an intention on founder Frankie Lee Slater's
part, to bring Women's Day into the present - where it can better represent
what it means to be a Woman today, empower Women and Men alike to play their
part in ushering in a higher level of conscious living, engender greater balance
in our society, and model what is possible when we affirm our connection and
create out of this awareness.
Starting with Women's Day 1999 "We Are the Weavers, We Are the Weave", continuing
in 2000 with "We Are All Artists of LIFE", in 2001 with "Celebrating
the Mystery", in 2003 with "Cosion", and again this year with
"Affirming Our Connection" that began with "The Great Sun Circles" in 1996,
the Coalition brought many communities together into one larger community -
inviting women and men who are artists and musicians, leaders of various movement,
performance, environmental, spiritual, women's and men's groups across the greater
Los Angeles area to co-create the experience in unison. The connectivity
created spanned far beyond the events themselves to broader and broader circles
of relationship that were seeded then and have continued to flourish since.
The impetus to create a new kind of Women's Day for the 21st Century,
came out of an observation that International Women's Day had lost much of its
luster, having become relegated to awards luncheons with so-called "important
women" up in front of the room while everyone else sat passively in the audience,
and angry women "going up against" without the skill level to actualize the
outcomes they were seeking. Though widely celebrated in other parts of
the world, the day had lain fallow for so long here in the United States that
it existed beyond the conscious awareness of whole generations who could have
Why Celebrate Women's Day?
In asking the questions, "How might our lives have been different if Women's
Day had been a consistent presence as we were growing up and throughout our
lives? How might they be different now?" the answers compelled us to breathe
new life into the day.
In earlier times, young women were brought into the ways of woman as a natural
part of their upbringing. Seasonal celebrations to the goddess, throughout
many cultures - to Brigit, Athena, Yemaya - kept the people connected
to the feminine, to the rhythm and flow of life. Nurturing and caring
for others extended far beyond ones ability to bear children, yet Mother's Day
is the one day which honors women that made it through to modern times in this
Foundationally, a young woman needs first to love and understand what it is
to be a woman before jumping straight to a role, even that of motherhood - especially
in this age when many women are following paths other than the traditional.
Add to that Secretary's Day and Take Our Daughters to Work Day, well intended
as they may be, and you've got women defined by their doing, rather than their
being. At odds with themselves, many American women are caught in this
mechanized worldview, working to achieve and make it on their own, angry about
not being taken care of, often in opposition to men while they yearn for relationship,
without knowing how to release their energy to create what they see to be possible
or the skills to be in union.
Women's Day has a place in the world today - to honor women, support them in
owning their true power, help free them to be their authentic selves and affirm
the leadership roles they are playing - and also to serve a new purpose in helping
us keep sight of our essential connection, bring balance and a more enlightened
way of being into the world for men and women and nations alike.
We have seen where our perception of fear, separation, lack and "power over"
have gotten us. This time is calling upon us to recognize the greater
Connectivity that actually supports and sustains us, so that the Oneness is
what we use to organize every aspect of our lives. When we look beyond
the surface appearance, every cycle of human existence - the great migrations,
the rise of corporate culture and the global economy, the evolution of machines
and devices, even the prospect of nuclear war - has been moving us to a greater
perception of inclusion. It is our perception of being separate that causes
the chasm, the reality is we are here together and earth is all of our homeland.