by Tina Gianoulis -
Special to the SGN
Rising out of the strikes and protests of the early 20th century labor movement, International Women's Day (IWD) began as a day of recognition of women's work and contributions to society. As early as World War I, IWD also became a rallying point for women working for peace. First declared at a Socialist International meeting in Denmark, the idea of a day celebrating all women soon spread globally, and March 8 became the official date. Today, in many countries, IWD is an important holiday, recognized with time off work and observed with marches and demonstrations demanding rights, freedom, and recognition for women.
Here in the U.S., IWD has been less widely recognized. Seattle however, has a long history of dynamic IWD events. This year, a broad coalition of women's groups and individuals has come together to plan a truly international celebration of our diverse women's community. On Saturday, March 10, from 2 to 8 p.m. at the Asian Counseling and Referral Service building (3639 Martin Luther King Jr. Way S.), 'Culture, Action, Solidarity' will highlight the struggles and achievements of women locally and internationally.
For the past two years, the IWD Seattle Coalition has organized a community dinner and awards ceremony to honor local grassroots activists, who often receive little public recognition for their social change work. This year continues and expands that tradition with an afternoon of workshops exploring issues women are confronting worldwide, followed by entertainment, a dinner, and the third annual awards ceremony. All parts of the event are free and wheelchair accessible. ASL interpretation will be provided.
After the doors open, attendees can browse informational tables to learn about community groups and organizations. At 2:45, a panel will introduce the workshop topics: Understanding Intersecting Oppressions, Women and the Media: Issues and Images, Combating Violence Against Women, Women and the Economy, and Immigration Rights and International Hotspots.
Each workshop will feature several presenters with unique perspectives on their topics, including Napal Tesfai and Cathy Hoog from Abused Deaf Women's Advocacy Service; Ginny NiCarthy, anti-domestic violence pioneer and author of Getting Free: You Can End Abuse and Take Back Your Life; Morgan Ahern, Romani Lesbian activist and founder of Lolo Diklo: Rromani Against Racism; Gloria Stancich of Old Lesbians Organizing for Change; Tammy Nguyen, organizer with Got Green; Madeline Ostrander, senior editor of Yes magazine; Naomi Ishisaka, former editor of ColorsNW, and many more.
During the workshops, childcare will be provided in an adjacent space. A special children's program will include crafts, storytelling, and a visit from a Seattle Fire Department engine.
At 5 p.m., the international women of Seattle will take the stage in a narrated fashion show of traditional dress - all women are encouraged to attend in the clothing of their country. Other entertainment will include the International Women Drummers; Muluu, who will perform and teach Ethiopian dance; the French vocals of Fathia Atallah; Marla S. Nonken on keyboards; and the songs and music of Jacque Larrainzar.
The evening will end on a note of positive action and celebration with a multi-cultural dinner at 6 p.m. and five IWD awards for grassroots activism, presented to women who have devoted their energy to progressive social change.
For more information about International Women's Day 2012: Culture, Action, Solidarity, call (206) 722-0729, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit Seattle International Women's Day on Facebook.
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