Monday, March 8, 2010

Women of the World, Unite

Magnet # 187: Czech Woman

Material: Clay

Purchased By: Mom & Dad

All around the world, this is International Women's Day. It's not a holiday we observe in the United States, although it originated here in 1909 and was developed by the Socialist Party of America. It was intended to stress the importance of the equality of women in the work force. Though its presence dwindled here over the years, it has become of great importance around the globe. The former Soviet Union was one of the countries that really latched onto this holiday. Lenin made it an official holiday after 1917's October Revolution, and it went on to become a non working day in 1965. There, it was heralded a day for women to rebel against their perceived second-class citizenship. They encouraged women to rise up against housework and strive for equal treatment in the workplace. Since the fall of Communism there, it has taken on less controversial attributes.

Although this holiday has strong socialist origins and ties, it doesn't necessarily have to be celebrated only in socialist nations nowadays. Counties as diverse as Brazil, Chile, Denmark, Italy, Greece, Russia, South Africa, Zambia, China, India, and Vietnam all observe it. In many, it has taken on a tone more like Mother's Day or Valentine's Day and men give flowers and small gifts to their mothers, daughters, wives or girlfriends, and female colleagues and employees. Sometimes children even give their mothers and grandmothers presents. The yellow mimosa is a symbol of the holiday in some nations and is given to women there. Celebrations vary from country to country. Women may gather together for parties and dinners that are female-only, perform in celebrations, or may even engage in feminist demonstrations. In some unusual cases, men have been banned from public places like libraries. It's odd how, depending on who is behind this observation, it can from the mundane to the extreme.

This magnet is from the Czech Republic, where, during the heyday of Communism, International Women's Day was a very important observation. After the fall of the Soviet Union, this holiday has taken on a more controversial role there. For a time, the holiday was completely abandoned, but there is now a movement to bring it back, mainly from Social-democrats and Communists. It has met with a great deal of opposition from the political right and much of the public. In fact, there has been an opposing movement to entirely ban International Women's Day in the Czech Republic. It has been unsuccessful, but for now, the holiday is still celebrated by hardly anyone in the nation. Perhaps, someday, some form of the observation can be reintroduced into Czech society. As I have accidentally dropped this one off the fridge and broken it, it also oddly ties into another aspect of International Women's Day. This year, the International Committee of the Red Cross is using the holiday to call attention to the increasing number of women that are being displaced by war. They face a great deal of threats, from poverty to violence to discrimination and it's important that we do what we can to support them. They may be broken, like my magnet, but it's also possible to repair them, and the Red Cross wants to not only focus on their plight, but also celebrate their strength and courage. You can try this link if you would like to learn more.

Well, it's certainly been interesting learning about this holiday that I've never celebrated. But from what I've seen, women's equality in the workplace has yet to be achieved in the United States, so perhaps we could use our own variation of this observance. The sentiments behind International Women's Day seem like a good idea. Let's face it ladies, we have come a long way in the work force and setting aside a day to remind ourselves of our progress and challenge us to continue to strive for equality might be a step in the right direction. So, here's to the women of the world - hopefully, someday we can truly achieve an equal footing with our male colleagues.


  1. You must have done a good repair job, because I can't find evidence of the break.

  2. Aw, thanks - you have no idea how happy that makes me!