March 8th has been officially recognized as International Women’s Day by the United Nations since 1977 and in 1980 the United States issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring Women’s History Week to be aligned with it. Around the world, this day has become a rallying point to build support for women’s rights and participation in political and economic arenas.
The 2022 Proclamation by the White House on Women’s History Month states that this month’s celebration “provides an opportunity to honor the generations of trailblazing women and girls who have built our Nation, shaped our progress, and strengthened our character as a people.” Regardless of their race, age, nationality of sexual orientation, everyday they run the world!
Breaking the glass ceiling
As an expression of gratitude and recognition for their daily contribution to the City of Asheville and their citizens, almost 50 women from all city departments gathered together in a historical group photo. This is an opportunity to acknowledge that at the City Government we are working towards achieving a more inclusive society.
In December 2020, Asheville City Council became an all-women council, a historical inflection point because men have historically been centered as political leaders, marginalizing women from decision making and representation spaces. Even though women are 51% of the population, they make up only 27% of Congress at large, 30% of statewide elected executives of any kind, and just 25% of mayors in cities with populations over 30,000. Walking through the streets we can notice this gap, because “monuments to historical men grossly outnumber those to historical women”.
The fight for women’s rights has always been related to fighting other injustices, like slavery. The first United States Women’s Rights convention in New York, in 1848, was organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott as a response to the fact that women were barred from speaking at an anti-slavery convention. They gathered a few hundred people to demand civil, social, political and religious rights for women in a Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions.
The theme for International Women’s Day, 8 March, 2022 (IWD 2022) is, “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”, recognizing the contribution of women and girls around the world, who are leading the charge on climate change adaptation, mitigation, and response, to build a more sustainable future for all.
Celebrate this day– it’s not just to thank women for their role as mothers, wives, or daughters. Rather, the day serves to recognize women as leaders, makers, and agents of change. Honoring that, the City of Asheville will continue to take actions empowering women, with programs like the Minority, Woman, and/or Small Business Enterprise Certification.
In the words of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “As women achieve power, the barriers will fall. As society sees what women can do, as women see what women can do, there will be more women out there doing things, and we’ll all be better off for it.”