The month of March marks Women’s History Month, and March 8th is recognized as International Women’s Day, a day with roots in the American labor movement and the struggles of working women.
The article, “Don’t forget what International Women’s Day is really about – striking,“ that ran in The Independent, recently featured the origins of the day and it’s ties to women workers organizing for better working conditions and fair treatment:
It was in 1857, that on 8 March in New York City, garments workers went on strike. Suffering horrific conditions, endless hours and low pay, they took to the streets demanding better money and working conditions. Dispersed after being attacked by police, the women continued to fight and from their movement the first women’s labour unions were established.
In the early 20th century, their movement blossomed. New York City’s streets again saw women march demanding shorter hours, better pay, an end to child labour and the right to vote in 1908. Leading labour organisers sought to strengthen the movement internationally. At the Conference of Working Women held in Copenhagen in 1910, Clara Zetkin asked over 100 women from 17 countries – representing unions, socialist parties and women’s working clubs – to pass a motion for an International Working Women’s Day. They did so, unanimously, and the so International Women’s Day was born.
To honor the sacrifices made by working women to improve working conditions and secure stability, equality, and independence, we wanted to show a few snapshots of ordinary, working women from our own UFCW history. These moments captured in time speak to the unsung efforts made by women over the past century to ensure Americans could put food on their table, even in times of war. To learn more, read the Women In Labor History Primer.
All photos except the Local 183 photo are from the Wisconsin Historical Society’s collection “Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen of North America records, 1903-1980.”