International Women's Day

January 8, 2008
Kathy Miller, 661/654-2456, or
Michele Newel, 661/654-2720,

Kern County will celebrate "International Women's Day" on Monday, March 10 at 6 p.m. at the Petroleum Club with a dinner and awards ceremony. International Women's Day is the story of ordinary women as makers of history.

The idea of an International Women's Day first arose at the turn of the previous century, a period of industrialization, turbulence, booming population growth, urban poverty, and humanist cries of hope and protest. Like many things, it started in America.

On March 8, 1857, women from New York City's clothing and textile factories protested poor working conditions and low wages and were dispersed by police. More protests followed on March 8 in subsequent years, most notably in 1908 when 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding better work conditions and voting rights.

The first National Women's Day was observed across the United States in 1909. International Women's Day was established in 1910 to advocate universal suffrage and other rights. The following year, more than 1 million people participated in International Women's Day celebrations in several European countries. A few days later, the Triangle Factory Fire in a New York City tenement factory killed more than 140 garment workers. The juxtaposition of these two events gave impetus to New York's progressive movement that later was carried to the White House by first Theodore then Franklin Roosevelt. In the West, International Women's Day was prominently celebrated through the 1920's, after which attention diminished until the 1960's. In 1975, the United Nations began sponsoring International Women's Day.

Increasingly over the years, International Women's Day has assumed a global dimension for women in developed and developing countries alike. March 8 is a national holiday in many countries.

Kern County began celebrating International Women's Day in 2002, thanks to a collaborative effort by the League of Women Voters and American Association of University Women. Each community celebrates International Women's Day in its own way. Kern County celebrates it by simultaneously reflecting on the global and community dimensions by honoring the contributions of local women who are foreign-born. This serves two purposes:

A consortium of representatives from California State University, Bakersfield, the League of Women Voters, American Association of University Women, African-American Network, Kern Community College District, Kern County Superintendent of Schools, Korean-American Association of Bakersfield, Latina Leaders of Kern, Muslim Public Affairs Council, National Council of Negro Women, and the Southeast Asian Community are helping steer the event.

The event is open to the public. Cost is $40 per person, and includes dinner and entertainment. Nominations are due by Thursday, Jan. 31. The nomination form is located online at [ ] For more information, log onto [ ] or call 661-323-5003 or 661-654-3140.