International Women’s Day
What so often happens on 8th March, on International Women’s Day, is that we are reminded of women who have been leaders in the struggle to advance women’s rights and the cause of a gender-equal society (in terms of opportunities and respect for individual choices). The day is, after all, orientated around a celebration of achievements, and it is often easier to identify and comment on women leaders; those whose lives are, in themselves, representative of attainment – inspirations and models to follow. But the day started as an idea in the early twentieth century to salute women’s progress, and highlight their demands for further advances. Clara Zetkin, in Germany, suggested the idea in 1910 – and it was taken up in a number of countries including Switzerland and Denmark, and slowly spread over the following decades. It was only picked up by the UN in 1975, in the wake of the global spread of the feminist movement of the 1960s, and given that this year’s theme is Press for Progress, it seems a fitting time to remember the women of the South West, those key workers who kept Devonport going as one of the most important bases in the war, who provided care for the huge number of wounded who were returned to the UK via Plymouth, who helped police the busy streets of Plymouth and contributed both funds and necessary comforts for soldiers, sailors and airmen.