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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 4, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 09
Seattle International Women's Day Coalition honors unsung local activists
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Seattle International Women's Day Coalition honors unsung local activists

by Tina Gianoulis - Special to the SGN

The Seattle International Women's Day coalition will honor local activists with a community appreciation event on March 8, recognizing this year as an important anniversary in women's history.

Almost 100 years ago, on March 25, 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City 's garment district caught fire. Because of insufficient safety precautions, careless management of hazardous materials, and restrictive work practices such as locking exits, 146 workers were killed - 129 of them women between the ages of 16 and 23. Their bodies were so badly damaged that the last six victims were only identified in 2010.

Devastating as it was, the Triangle fire was a galvanizing point for International Ladies' Garment Workers Union and the struggle for humane conditions for factory workers. Even Frances Perkins, Franklin D. Roosevelt's secretary of labor and the first woman appointed to a cabinet position, dated her lifelong devotion to the cause of workers' rights from the day she witnessed the terrible tragedy at Triangle. The Triangle fire and the public outcry it inspired also infused new energy into International Women's Day, which had been established nationally in 1909 and internationally in 1910 as a day to honor the struggle for women's rights.

As International Women's Day 2011 approaches, we have no shortage of atrocities to fire our resistance movements. Attacks on labor, the erosion of women's right to control their bodies, and ever-deeper cuts in vital social programs in order to expand immoral wars have the power either to demoralize us as activists or to increase our determination to resist corporatization and militarization and build the sort of society we want to live in.

In this spirit of resistance, a broad coalition of feminist and other progressive activists have come together to host the second annual community event to honor women grassroots activists on International Women's Day on March 8. The event, titled 'Honoring Our Fierce and Fabulous Sisters,' will take place from 6-9 p.m. at POCAAN (1609 19th Ave.), just south of Madison St.

During the first hour, an old-fashioned potluck dinner will provide an opportunity for community members to socialize, network, and celebrate the solidarity of International Women's Day. From 7-9 p.m., the coalition will present awards of appreciation to 11 grassroots women activists whose work for justice, peace, and human rights too often goes unrewarded. Interspersed between the tributes, local performers will entertain, including the Pinay choir, Sistah Drum, Marla S. Nonken, and musician and activist Jacque Larrainzar, who will also emcee. POCAAN is a wheelchair-accessible venue, and the program part of the event will be ASL-interpreted. Please do not wear fragrances. For more information, call (206) 722-0729 or check out Seattle International Women's Day on Facebook.

Organizers invite all members of Seattle 's progressive community to join them in honoring these unsung heroines of many local movements, and relaxing together in order to build community and gather strength to continue our efforts for change. In making these connections, we truly honor the sacrifice and the struggle of the workers of the Triangle factory.

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