Community Connections - International Women's Day

March 8th is International Women’s Day. Since 1911, this has been a day to recognize the achievements and efforts of women and to continue to rally and push for the original goal  -gender equality around the globe.

The day is acknowledged in different ways in different countries. In some countries it is a national holiday, in others it is a day of organized awareness raising and action. Check listings in your own community to find out what is happening near you.

International Women's Week in Antignonish details -

Status of Women Canada, International Women's Day.


History of International Women’s Day.

International Women’s Day grew out of women’s efforts in the labour and women’s suffrage movements in the early 1900s. In 1909, the first National Women’s Day was organized in the USA in response to the March 8, 1908 Garment Workers Strike when 15,000 women garment workers, mostly immigrants, marched through New York city demanding fair working conditions. Their choice of date honoured the March 8, 1857, garment workers strike in New York City protesting inhumane working conditions.

In 1910, at the International Conference of Working Women, held in Copenhagen Denmark, Clara Zetkin (leader of the Women’s Office of the Social Democratic Party of Germany) put forward the idea of an International Women’s Day – yet with no fixed date. In 1911, Austria, Denmark, Switzerland and Germany celebrated International Women’s Day on March 19th. This date was chosen by German women in recognition that on March 19th, 1848, the Prussian King recognized the power of the people and promised suffrage to women; a promise he failed to keep.  Historical stories tell how men stayed home to care for the children while women went to meetings, organized and participated in actions.

In the years 1913-1914, International Women’s Day became a platform for nonviolent protesting against World War I.  In 1917, on International Women’s Day women in Russia protested for economic security and peace; four days later the Tsar abdicated and the provisional government granted women the right to vote.

In 1975, International Women’s Year, the United Nations started recognizing International Women’s Day on March 8th. In 1977, the UN General Assembly passed Resolution 32/142 inviting all states to designate a day for Women’s Rights and International Peace.

Adult Education and International Women’s Day

Adult Education has a strong and deep history in labour and women’s movements, as well as building critical thinking and reflection and skills for organizing for social change and gender equality at the local, national and international levels.  

Faculty of the Master of Adult Education share their suggestions for resources related to their scholarship, feminism and International Women’s Day.

Adam Perry, PhD.

"This article by Kerry Preibish and Evelyn Encalada Grez is important because the authors respond to an important gap in understanding the increased preference among agricultural employers in Canada to hire women migrant workers from the Global South to work on industrial-scale commercial farms. The primary author, Kerry Priebisch was considered an important feminist trailblazer in the area of gender, immigration and work. She sadly passed away in 2016. The second author, Evelyn Encalada Grez, is a long-time community organizer with Justicia for Migrant Workers, a group that promotes the rights of migrant workers in Canada."

Preibish, K.L. & E. Encalanda Grez. (2010). The Other Side of el Otro Lado: Mexican Migrant Women and Labor Flexibility in Canadian Agriculture.  Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 35(2): 289-316

Carole Roy, PhD.

"Women's work and contributions have often been erased from the historical record. One project that seeks to keep alive women's contributions is The Grindmill Songs Project, a collection of over 100,000 folk songs composed and sung by women in Maharashtra, India. Translation is provided. This is the result of decades of field work by anthropologists and ethnomusicologists to provide access to women's insights of their everyday life and experiences. This is part of the People's Archive of Rural India, which has inspired the creation in Antigonish of the People's Archive of Rural Nova Scotia (PARNS)."

Leona English, PhD.

"This is my favorite women’s activism site. There are so many stories here of great Canadian women who changed the world. Check it out." Women Social Activists of Atlantic Canada

Maureen Coady, PhD.

"In terms of meaningful moments related to realizations about women,  my mind goes back to my early years and coming into my own during the  second wave of feminism in the 1970’s. AT the time, music was an inspiration to us all, and music by Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan and others who sang about love, peace, and freedom during a time of war (Vietnam) were hopeful.  I recall the Circle Game by Joni Mitchell as particularly memorable and grounding in my own thinking about who I was as a woman, and about the many possibilities that were opening up to me as a young woman in that time.  So, my offering on International Women’s day in 2019 is to remember Joni and the lyrics that meant so much to me then, and a short video of Joni singing this particular song that I recall watching on our very first TV set in 1968 in Margaree."  Joni Mitchell, The Circle Game.

Robin Neustaeter, PhD. 

"Attentive to the history of International Women's Day - 2019 is the 100th anniversary of the Winnipeg General Strike in which women played diverse and conflicting roles over the strike’s six weeks. Helen Armstrong was a key organizer, activist and strike leader. Helen, an adult educator, was insistent on women's political education and learning to organize to fight for their rights. In 1918 Helen was a key player in the successful campaign for a minimum wage for women in Manitoba. I chose historian and filmmaker Paula Kelly’s article from The Beaver, Looking for Mrs Armstrong: The Winnipeg General Strike’s forgotten woman."


Select Resources

Darlene E. Clover, Shauna Butterwick, & Laurel Collions. (Eds.). (2016). Women, adult education and leadership in Canada. Toronto: Thompson Educational Publishing.

Kathy Durkin (2008). A rich traditional: International Women’s Day. Workers’ World.

Leona M. English and Catherine J. Irving (2015) Feminism in community: Adult education for transformation. Boston: SensePublishers.

Alexandra Kollantai, (1920). A militant celebration.

Steph Solis (2013). Where did International Women’s Day come from? Yes Magazine.

United Nations. International Women’s Day. March 8th.

UN Women Watch. International Women’s Day History.