After a series of landmark organized strikes in the mid-1800s, International Working Women’s Day was conceived as a holiday to celebrate women in the workforce.
The tradition will continue on Thursday, March 7, in Lecture Center (LC) 100 to celebrate and offer solidarity for working women, discuss reproductive rights and the epidemic of violence against women, organizer Donna Goodman said.
Now known as International Women’s Day, Goodman said the holiday has gained momentum in recent years following the emergence of third wave feminism.
Goodman said the New Paltz community has seen success with these events in the past year — particularly an event for Women’s Equality Day held on Aug. 26 by Women Organized to Resist and Defend that drew 300 people.
“With attacks by the right wing in recent years, women are ready to rise up and fight for [their equality],” Goodman said. “This event will provide young feminists with an opportunity to stand up for their rights in public.”
The public arena will offer Goodman and other organizers the chance to highlight relevant social issues, especially the issue of domestic violence and violence against women. Goodman said the issue is too often thought of as something that occurs elsewhere, which encourages shaming reactions to victims, who then are reluctant to report the crimes to authorities.
“It says something about the climate we live in,” Goodman said. “[At this event] women from all different movements are coming out to recognize that all women’s lives are in danger from violence from the basic inequality.”
Student organizer Caitlin O’Donnell said the various advocacy groups collaborating have worked in a wide range of movements including women’s rights, peace, environmental, labor and student rights.
It’s this universal quality that raises O’Donnell’s optimism about the event. She said she thinks it will spur unity and excitement for activism on campus, particularly in terms of gender equality.
“I feel that our campus has a predisposition to support community action,” O’Donnell said. “I loved working with the women in this group because we all come from different backgrounds and different groups that we are involved in, but we all have similar values and we can connect on that level.”
Campus organizations and departments sponsoring the event include the Sociology Department, the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Amnesty International, Washbourne House, Progressive Academic Network at SUNY New Paltz, The New Paltz Campus Community Environmental Task Force, NYPIRG, The New Paltz Feminist Collective, Students for Justice in Palestine, Haitian People’s Support Project and Move to Amend of Ulster County.
“I think that so many groups came together to support this event because women’s issues span a vast array of issues,” O’Donnell said. “For example, you could look at feminism within the environmental movement and also within the human rights movement. Everyone can connect with it.”