International Women’s day – then and now

I sent the following as a letter to the editor of the Bellingham Herald:

The Herald has done its readers a disservice by neglecting to celebrate International Women’s Day and remind them about the origin the celebration. IWD gained prominence in 1911 as a demonstration of international solidarity with the 148 women who died in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York.

Though we are still far from genuine equality, women in the United States have won great victories. In our country, for example, women no longer burn to death when they are forced to work in textile factories with no safeguards. However, women in many other countries – who knit the clothes we all wear – have not achieved such a victory. Indeed, the staggering death toll from fires at textile factories – where the majority of workers are young women – is one of the most stark indicators of how much work remains to be done.

So let us celebrate the progress that has been made by women in this country, and redouble our efforts to overcome the obstacles that remain. But, remembering the international solidarity that was shown to us, let us also stand in solidarity with the women who continue to be sacrificed at the altar of profit.

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