First Women’s Day Was Organized by Socialists

Women's March organizer: 'Any feminism that doesn’t challenge capitalism feels, by definition, inadequate'

Thousands Attend Women's March On Washington

Protester's signs are left near the White House during the Women's March on Washington on January 21 / Getty Images

BY:

The history of International Women's Day is rooted in Socialism.

More than a century ago, the Socialist Party of America organized the first "National Woman's Day" in New York.

On Feb. 28, 1909, the "Socialist Party of America designated this day in honour of the 1908 garment workers' strike in New York, where women protested against working conditions," according to the United Nations.

The second date commemorating women occurred in 1910 and also was started by the left-wing political movement.

"The Socialist International, meeting in Copenhagen, established a Women's Day, international in character, to honour the movement for women's rights and to build support for achieving universal suffrage for women," according to the U.N. "The proposal was greeted with unanimous approval by the conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, which included the first three women elected to the Finnish Parliament. No fixed date was selected for the observance."

The liberal organizers of the Women's March urged women to skip work, block roads, and boycott to observe International Women's Day on Wednesday. The protest caused several school districts to shut down.

The Women's March has had the support of Socialist groups. The Socialist Worker said it supported Wednesday's protest as an opportunity to bring back "radical" Socialist politics.

"We see March 8 as a reclamation project in that sense—as an effort to reconnect with the militant and radical politics of socialist feminism and Black feminism of the 1960s and 1970s, which located the oppression of women in capitalism and the free market," the Socialist Worker said.

Socialist groups also participated in the Women's March on Washington to protest the inauguration of Donald Trump. A representative for the D.C. chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America's "socialist feminism subcommittee" was marching against capitalism.

"Capitalism relies heavily … on highly gendered domestic (free) labor, control over reproduction of the workforce (i.e., pregnancy), etc.," said Rachel Paneth-Pollak, the organizer. "So, any feminism that doesn’t challenge capitalism feels, by definition, inadequate."

Elizabeth Harrington   Email Elizabeth | Full Bio | RSS
Elizabeth Harrington is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. Elizabeth graduated from Temple University in 2010. Prior to joining the Free Beacon, she worked as a staff writer for CNSNews.com. Her email address is elizabeth@freebeacon.com. Her Twitter handle is @LizWFB.