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March 08, 2021

International Women's Day

Celebrating Great Women

Women making History – Then and Now:

Marie Van Brittan Brown (1922 - 1999)

American nurse Marie Van Brittan Brown was concerned about safety when she was home alone at odd hours of the day or night; the crime rate in her neighborhood in Queens, New York, had been increasing, and police response time was slow. She realized that she would feel less vulnerable if she could see who was at her door — without opening it. Working with her husband Albert, an electrician, Brown created a system of four peep holes and a movable camera that connected wirelessly to a monitor in their bedroom. A two-way microphone allowed conversation with someone outside, and buttons could sound an alarm or remotely unlock the door. The Browns received a patent for their security system in 1969, and Brown received an award from the National Science Committee for her truly innovative idea. Her idea became the groundwork for all modern home security systems, and she's also inspired many fellow inventors, including her own daughter, who also holds multiple patents.

Marsai Martin, (16, b. 2004) youngest Executive Producer in history

Marsai Martin, 15, started her role as Diane Johnson on the hit ABC TV comedy, “Blackish” in 2014, when she was just 10. Two years later, she starred in her first film, "An American Girl Story – Melody 1963: Love Has to Win," set in Detroit during the civil rights movement. She starred in "Little" for Universal Pictures, and at just 13, was named an executive producer, making her the youngest in history. She is also producing and acting in another film, "Amari and the Night Brothers." In an interview with the LA Times, she gave her advice to others wanting to follow a similar path. "Believe in yourself. Push to your highest limit. Be confident that you can do it. If you take that one push to do it, then God's got the rest. Just leave it up to him," she said.

2 Brief (and incomplete) History of International Womxn’s Day (March 8)

  • 1908 – 15,000 women march through NYC demanding short hours, better pay, and voting rights.

  • 1909 – on Sunday, February 28, the first “National Women’s Day” was observed across the United States.

  • 1910 – At the second International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen, a woman named Clara Zetkin tabled the idea of an International Women's Day. 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. Over 100 women from 17 countries, representing unions, socialist parties, working women's clubs unanimously approved and thus International Women's Day was the result.

  • 1975 - International Women's Day was celebrated for the first time by the United Nations in 1975. Then in December 1977, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions.

  • 2000 - By the new millennium, there was little activity occurring for International Women's Day in most countries. The world had moved on and, in many spheres, feminism wasn't a popular topic. Something was needed to re-ignite International Women's Day giving it the respect it deserves and to raise awareness amongst the masses. There was urgent work to do - battles had not been won and gender parity still had not been achieved.

  • 2001 - The platform was launched with the specific purpose of re-energizing the day, celebrating and making visible the achievements of women while continuing the call for accelerating gender parity. The website, which provides useful guidance and resources, adopts an annual campaign theme that is globally relevant for groups and organizations. The campaign theme, one of many around the world, provides a framework and direction for annual IWD activity and takes into account the wider agenda of both celebration as well as the call to action for gender parity. Campaign themes over the years have included: #ChooseToChallenge, #EachforEqual, #TheGenderAgenda and more. Campaign themes for the global IWD website are collaboratively developed each year with a range of stakeholders and widely adopted worldwide. The IWD website also serves as a significant vehicle for charities and in 2020 a hefty six figure sum was fundraised with 100% of donations going to charity.

  • 2011 - 2011 saw the 100 year centenary of International Women's Day - with the first IWD event held exactly 100 years ago in 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. In the United States, President Barack Obama proclaimed March 2011 to be "Women's History Month", calling Americans to mark IWD by reflecting on "the extraordinary accomplishments of women" in shaping the country's history. The then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched the "100 Women Initiative: Empowering Women and Girls through International Exchanges". In the United Kingdom, celebrity activist Annie Lennox lead a march across one of London's iconic bridges raising awareness in support for global charity Women for Women International. Further charities such as Oxfam have run extensive IWD activity. Many celebrities and business leaders actively support the day.

  • 2021 - The world has witnessed a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women's and society's thoughts about women's equality and emancipation. With more women in the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women's visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life, one could think that women have gained true equality. The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women's education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men. And so each year the world inspires women and celebrates their achievements. IWD is an official holiday in many countries including Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia. The tradition sees men honoring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts. In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother's Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.