In 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights. 1911 saw the celebration of International Women’s year in several countries (Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland), but March 8 didn’t become the official date until 1917, when Russian women organized a strike in response to the deaths of over 2 million Russian soldiers in war. This demonstration, held on March 8, became the prelude of the Russian revolution.
The new millennium 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 and greater equality in legislative rights, one might think that women have gained true equality. The unfortunate fact is that women still do not receive pay equal to that of their male counterparts, women are still not present in equal number in business or politics, and globally women’s education and health lag behind those of men.
International Women's Day homepage: http://www.internationalwomensday.com/
Norwegian Gender Equality
In Norway, International Women’s day was first celebrated in 1915. Today Norway is ranked as one of the top nations in terms of its economic and political gender equality.
- Women occupy about one-third of the seats in the Norwegian parliament and municipalities.
- Gro Harlem Brundtland, the former Norwegian Prime Minister, attracted international attention in 1986 when she formed a cabinet in which nearly half of the members were women. Norwegian law now requires such a balance.
- In 2003, Norway became the first country in the world to introduce legislation stipulating balanced gender representation on company boards, requiring that at least 40 percent of all board members be women.
- Norwegian family and gender equality policy aims at enabling women and men alike to participate in family and working life. Particularly important are the systems for publicly financed daycare and parental leave (providing either 53 weeks of leave at 80 percent of one’s salary or 43 weeks at 100 percent of one’s salary).
- According to 2004 figures, 75 percent of Norwegian women aged 25–66 are in the workforce, compared to 82 percent of men. Participation by women with small children is also high.