March 8th - International Day of Women's Labor Rights
March 8th - International Day of Women's Solidarity Actions
On March 8th, 1910, Clara Cetkin, a German social-democrat (1857-1933) proposed that March 8th be a day to commemorate how women have struggled in the past.
The official policy of the SFRY was to celebrate March 8th in a ceremonial fashion.
Alternative feminist pacifist activists have returned the original meaning to this date:
- On March 8th 1988, The SOS Hotline for women and children victims of violence began operating in Zagreb;
- On March 8th 1990, The SOS Hotline for women and children victims of violence began operating in Belgrade;
- On March 8th 1991, The Women's Parliament was founded in Belgrade.
Over the past ten years, a period of nationalism, militarism and war, official FRY policy completely ignored the original rebellious character of March 8th by reducing women to wives, mothers and ‘guardians of tradition and national values.’ The position of women has not improved since the change of regime on October 5th 2000.
However, because of alternative women's policy, March 8th is now marked with events of emancipation and insubordination. Women do not accept their officially-sanctioned role as passive onlookers; they organize peace actions, set up autonomous groups and undertake actions and initiatives as autonomous female human beings.
Throughout the world on March 8th, women organize protests that unmask various forms of oppression and discrimination and state and family violence.
On March 8th, women emphasize their solidarity and their opposition to war, militarism and violence. Women in Black have held street vigils on March 8th every year since they began in 1991 as a sign of solidarity with all the women in the world who oppose war and violence by creating peace and working for women's human rights and women's autonomy.
On March 8th this year, Women in Black expresses particular support, solidarity and admiration for the peace movement's women activists who work under difficult and often unbearable conditions and for those women who transform their suffering and bitterness into nonviolent actions against militarism. These women include:
- Women in Black - Israel, who have been protesting against the Israeli Army’s occupation of the Palestinian territories since January 1988 and have created networks of solidarity and sisterhood with Palestinian women;
- Women in Black - Colombia, who nonviolently challenge the use of arms in all circumstances, often risking their lives;
- Women in Black from Srebrenica, who seek the truth about their relatives who disappeared;
- Women in Afghanistan who work with the feminist-pacifist network RAWA;
- Women in Algeria, Pakistan, and other countries who have steadily struggled against terrorism in nonviolent ways.
On this occasion, once again we wish to make visible our connections with all of the autonomous women's peace groups in the former Yugoslavia.
On March 8th this year, we will join our friends in Novi Sad, who are organizing actions at 4 pm at Zmaj Jovina Street.