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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 15, 2019 - Volume 47 Issue 11
GSBA celebrates International Women's Day [Friday, March 8]
Section One
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GSBA celebrates International Women's Day [Friday, March 8]

Happy International Women's Day!

HISTORY
This day emerged from the activities of the labor movements at the turn of the twentieth century in North America and across Europe. The first National Woman's Day was observed in the U.S. in 1909 in honor of the 1908 garment workers' strike in New York, where women protested against horrendous working conditions. In 1910 the Socialist International meeting in Copenhagen established a Women's Day to honor women's rights and to gain support for universal suffrage for women. It was first celebrated in 1911 in several European countries where more than one million women and men rallied for the right to vote, to hold public office, women's right to work, to vocational training, and for an end to discrimination on the job.

Less than a week after the first International Women's Day, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire killed 146, mostly young immigrant women, in New York City. That incident inspired many changes in industrial working conditions, and the memory of those who died has been often invoked as part of International Women's Days from that point on. In 1975, recognized as International Women's Year, the United Nations General Assembly began celebrating March 8 as International Women's Day. By 2014, it was celebrated in more than 100 countries, and had been made an official holiday in more than 25.

TODAY
Since those early years, International Women's Day has assumed a new global dimension for women in developed and developing countries alike. The growing international women's movement, which has been strengthened by four global United Nations women's conferences, has helped make the commemoration a rallying point to build support for women's rights and participation in the political and economic arenas. I would like to think we have made great progress since the first International Women's Day was celebrated. Certainly, we have the vote, but then again, there is a movement to suppress voter's rights. Women now are nearly 50% of the work force, but pay inequity still persists and, as we all know, job discrimination and sexual harassment at work still threaten the equal and equitable treatment of women in the workplace.

WHAT YOU CAN DO
As employers, let's commemorate both Women's History Month and March 8 as International Women's Day by looking at our own workplaces. Are there adequate remedies for reporting sexual harassment? Do you incorporate training on what it means to have a safe, respectful, and inclusive workplace? Does your staff, including upper management, reflect the diversity of your community? Do you intentionally source from certified women-owned businesses? If not, why and how, as an employer, can you remedy inequities and bias in your workplace? As a community that understands what it means to not have a seat at the table, let's make sure we are intentional in creating communities in which everyone has access and opportunity.

Some of the most successful businesses in Seattle are owned by GSBA members. Use this month to learn about the many businesses owned by women, including our trans, nonbinary and women of color owned businesses, and make a commitment to do business together. As a member of GSBA, you have already made a commitment to join a chamber created to advance equality, equity, diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Let's put that membership to work by supporting each other.

For equality,

Louise Chernin
President & CEO

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