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4 March 2004 Edition

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International Women's Day

International Women's Day, which falls on Monday, has its origins in the trade union movement in America in the early 20th century, particularly in the activism of the women who worked in the clothing industry sweatshops of the time.

In 1907, the women held a Hunger March in New York to protest the dangerous working conditions and very long working hours. They called for a ten-hour working day and improved wages. The police attacked the march, and the following year on 8 March 1908, a commemorative march was held, which became a milestone in women's history.

On Monday, the National Women's Council of Ireland will launch its manifesto, 'Making women's voices heard'. It promises to highlight women's concerns and represents a set of demands for women around key equality issues; health, decision-making, income and care work.

The NWCI hopes that the manifesto will be used as a tool to lobby local and European election candidates in the upcoming elections in June.

The government parties have yet to come up with a woman EU election candidate between them, but this did not deter them from inviting women to a reception in Government Buildings to celebrate International Women's Day.

One woman, respected political activist Margaretta D'Arcy, was outraged, describing her invite as a travesty, a mockery and a violation of what ought to be a day of solidarity with women's worldwide stuggle for human rights and dignity, for security from violence (state, communal, criminal or domestic), for safety from racial and cultural discrimination, for freedom from avoidable disease, as well as for recognition of women's value as the prime carers of society.

D'Arcy said the hospitality was an exercise of cynical manipulation with an eye to the European and local elections. She will not be at the reception and hopes other women will also refuse.

Happily, there is an alternative: women will be gathering on Monday 8 March at 12 noon at the Department of Health & Children in Dublin to protest the double standard of the government's cutbacks in the health service, combined with the growth of the armament industry in Ireland.

Those participating will be part of the 5th Global Women's Strike - to stop the world and change it. Which seems much more in keeping with the spirit of those pioneering sisters in New York.

An Phoblacht Magazine


  • Don't miss your chance to get the second edition of the 2019 magazine, published to coincide with Easter Week
  • This special edition which focuses on Irish Unity, features articles by Pearse Doherty, Dr Thomas Paul and Martina Anderson.
  • Pearse sets out the argument for an United Ireland Economy whilst Pat Sheehan makes the case for a universally free all-island health service.
  • Other articles include, ‘Ceist teanga in Éirinn Aontaithe’, ‘Getting to a new Ireland’ and ‘Ireland 1918-22: The people’s revolution’.

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