International Women's Day

Today is International Women's Day (IWD). Just in case, you don't know it, IWD is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.

IWD is anchored to the women's rights to vote or women's suffrage. It was in 1869 when British MP John Stuart Mill was the first person in Parliament to call for women's right to vote. On 19 September 1893 New Zealand became the first country in the world to give women the right to vote. Women in other countries did not enjoy this equality and campaigned for justice for many years.

In 1910 a second International Conference of Working Women was held in Copenhagen. A woman named Clara Zetkin (Leader of the 'Women's Office' for the Social Democratic Party in Germany) tabled the idea of an International Women's Day. She proposed that every year in every country there should be a celebration on the same day - a Women's Day - to press for their demands. The conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, representing unions, socialist parties, working women's clubs, and including the first three women elected to the Finnish parliament, greeted Zetkin's suggestion with unanimous approval and thus International Women's Day was the result.

The very first International Women's Day was launched the following year by Clara Zetkin on 19 March (not 8 March). The date was chosen because on 19 March in the year of the 1848 revolution, the Prussian king recognized for the first time the strength of the armed people and gave way before the threat of a proletarian uprising. Among the many promise he made, which he later failed to keep, was the introduction of votes for women.

Plans for the first International Women's Day demonstration were spread by word of mouth and in the press. During the week before International Women's Day two journals appeared: The Vote for Women in Germany and Women's Day in Austria. Various articles were devoted to International Women's Day: 'Women and Parliament', 'The Working Women and Municipal Affairs', 'What Has the Housewife got to do with Politics?', etc. The articles thoroughly analyzed the question of the equality of women in the government and in society. All articles emphasized the same point that it was absolutely necessary to make parliament more democratic by extending the franchise to women.

Success of the first International Women's Day in 1911 exceeded all expectation.

Meetings were organized everywhere in small towns and even the villages halls were packed so full that male workers were asked to give up their places for women.

Men stayed at home with their children for a change, and their wives, the captive housewives, went to meetings.

During the largest street demonstration of 30,000 women, the police decided to remove the demonstrators' banners so the women workers made a stand. In the scuffle that followed, bloodshed was averted only with the help of the socialist deputies in Parliament.

In 1913 International Women's Day was transferred to 8 March and this day has remained the global date for International Wommen's Day ever since.

During International Women's Year in 1975, IWD was given official recognition by the United Nations.

Current list of women's senior office holders in Brunei (someone please send me a list of the women ambassadors and directors at MOFAT, MOE & MOH):-

Ambassador at Large - HRH Princess Masna
High Court Judge - Datin Hayati
Permanent Secretary, Prime Minister's Office - Datin Salbiah
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade - Datin Maimunah
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education - Datin Apsah
Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade - Pg Datin Masrainah
Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education - Hajah Norjum
Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health - Dr Datin Intan
Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources - Pg Marianah
Accountant General - Hajah Suriyah
Solicitor General - Datin Magdalene Chong
Director General Education - Pg Mastoli
Director General Medical - Dr Norlela
Director Community Development Department - Datin Adina
Director Fisheries Department - Hajah Asnah
Director Agriculture Department - Hajah Normah
Director Financial Institutions Division, MOF - Hajah Rosni
Director Technical Services, PWD - Hajah Siah
Director Building Services, PWD - Hajah Marhani
Director Development, PWD - Pg Anak Yashimah


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