By S.M. Berg
In 1975, the United Nations officially recognized March 8 as International Women’s Day, and in 1976 the city of Portland celebrated at the YWCA downtown. Since then the event has been held mostly at Portland State University, where this year’s 31st anniversary festivities will take place on Sunday, March 5 at the Smith Center Ballroom. Countries as diverse as Romania, China and Uganda have made International Women’s Day a national holiday, but even though the United States has not yet done so there are celebrations planned in many U.S. cities and Portland’s is shaping up to be one of the best.
The socialist history of International Women’s Day in the United States is often forgotten since the American revival of the holiday in the 1960s diminished the significance of anything smacking of communism. In 1908, on the last Sunday in February, socialist women in the United States initiated the first Women’s Day with large demonstrations calling for the vote and for the political and economic rights of women. The following year, 2,000 people attended a Women’s Day rally in Manhattan.
Since those early years, International Women’s Day has assumed a global dimension for women in developed and developing countries alike. Increasingly, the day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities. Sponsored by the PSU Women’s Resource Center, organizers of the celebration have expressed their intent to return the event to the more traditional international aspects of the holiday than has been present in recent years.
Portland’s International Women’s Day 2006 will feature women owned and/or operated vendors, educational workshops, art exhibits, a health fair, entertainment, and international food. Over a thousand people are expected to come together for this free event to honor women’s work, art and contributions to the community.
A lively lineup is scheduled, including a presentation and book signing by Ingra Muscio, internationally acclaimed author of Cunt: A Declaration of Independence. A performance by The Flat Mountain Girls, a local, all-female bluegrass band is planned for the main stage and a documentary by local artist and activist Julianne Johnson titled Grandma Zula’s Legacy will be premiered.
On the workshop and discussion end of things, Georgia Pinkel will be presenting “You’re Never Too Old To Make Change: A History of the Raging Grannies” and Marie Fleishmann will be host a creative writing and speaking workshop. There will also be a panel discussion on female cyclists featuring several bicycling women who will speak about the obstacles women face in the cycling world and what resources are available to overcome them.
Portland International Women’s Day is a day for women to discover their similarities and to learn from their differences in a respectful environment. There’s no better way to kick off Women’s History Month than by coming out on Sunday to show your support for the amazing and creative women in our worldwide community.
S.M. Berg is a local activist, bicyclist, and writist
The Portland Alliance
2807 SE Stark Portland,OR 97214
Last Updated: March 5, 2006