International Women’s Day marked by matters of concern

Does the phrase  “International Women’s Day” seem too overwhelming? How do you narrow women’s issues down to specific actions you can take to get involved?

It’s worthwhile to learn new things, and today was no exception.  Today, for International Women’s Day, I learned something big:  An organization called One Billion Rising Revolution, which describes itself as the biggest mass action to end violence against women in human history, has events going on all over the world. Its campaigns, which include major happenings on Valentine’s Day, are about people around the world drumming, dancing and rising in public “as a call to action based on the staggering statistic that 1-in-3 women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. With the world population at 7 billion, this adds up to more than ONE BILLION WOMEN AND GIRLS.”

I learned that a high school group in Troy,  formed by caring teachers two years ago, held its own One Billion Rising event for the first time in 2014. The group, Women as Voices and Educators, is made up of high school boys and girls who are learning to address girls being the targets of derogatory language and actions.

And there’s more. So much more. There are the changes made by women in labor, women who teach, women in health care, moms, women who drive school buses and women who work in the cafeteria.

Says NYSUT Vice President Paul Pecorale, who oversees social justice for the union:

“Today, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, I want to honor all the wonderful women of NYSUT who selflessly help to make the world a better place,” “The theme for International Women’s Day 2015 is: ‘Make It Happen’ and I am proud to work along side each of you in celebrating the things that each of you make happen every day through your strength, love, advocacy and charity.

“I encourage each of you to send a message in support of International Women’s Day by lending your voice on social media. Consider using one of the following hashtags in your message:

Thank you for contributing your voice to the collective efforts in the fight for human rights and equality.”

Many concerns loom large for women today. Where to begin?

Let’s go with a starter plan. Begin with resources from the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW). We’re reminded that, yes, women are still asking for equal pay. Support the Paycheck Fairness Act. Come on, people, it’s time to update the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which was supposed to close the wage gap. But we are still making 78 cents on the dollar for what men earn, and that is according to a recent U.S. Census report.

Keep taking action to get the minimum wage raised. Two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women. An easy-to-read chart put together by the National Women’s Law Center will show you how wages compare state by state.

Most newspapers and magazines have included stories in the recent past about the rights of pregnant women being denied in the workplace. Walmart comes to mind. Support the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which would require employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant women.

To learn more about these and other issues affecting the female gender, visit CLUW. The organization is also celebrating women who have made their mark in history — particularly labor history. CLUW believes its stories can inspire us to do what we have to to make life better for women today. Click here to read the stories of some of CLUW’s founding leaders who were so ahead of their time in fighting for the needs of working women.

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