Sunday, March 8, 2009

Intenational Women's Day

"International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.

In 1869 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." Official site:

A suffragette being forcibly removed from an outdoor meeting at Enfield in 1914.

The world of fashion had always been dominated by men until, in the reign of King Louis XIV, the prudish Madame de Maintenon persuaded the King to allow fashion design to be controlled by women, because 'it was not decent that men's hands should touch the body of women'. Men regained their fashion power after Marie Antoinette. Then along came Madame Paquin in 1900, Madame Vionnet and the revolutionary Coco Chanel. As women still fight today for equality (yes, they do) it is difficult to imagine the blockades these women would have faced in their day.

Women's fashion design worked hard to be equal that to men. It was more obvious in the early 1900s when sports became more acceptable for a woman to enter into and women's outfits radically changed. Clothing needed to allow for more ease of movement. Although we don't think of these outfits as easier to move in, they were indeed revolutionary for the time.

Sport clothes, c. 1905 - see the roller skates?

Let's be clear. By embracing vintage clothing, we do not embrace the old fashioned thinking. We enjoy fashion for fashion's sake. That's what is so great about living in the 21st century...our options are limitless. We can enjoy the vintage fashions without the vintage and backward thinking about women.

I will be celebrating International Women's Day with my black belt colleagues as we conduct a self-defense and confidence workshop for women. What will you be doing?

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