Happy International Women's Day! March 8th is celebrated around the world as a day to honor women's contributions to economy and society. This date actually commemorates strikes by female garment workers in New York in 1857 and 1908, according to this article in today's Christian Science Monitor, and was initially called "International Working Women's Day." Women around the world will have some time off work to celebrate, and will receive flowers and small gifts from employers and students. In many nations, the day is also being used for events and demonstrations highlighting the special challenges that women still face, including gender-based violence, female genital mutilation, patriarchal oppression, and unequal pay. The date is little marked in the United States, perhaps due to our national aversion to publicly condoning anything that's ever been associated with or approved by socialists anywhere.
Yesterday, however, our President did give the 51% an early Women's Day present by signing into law the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Despite the act's name,it protects all people regardless of sex or gender, but the problems targeted disproportionately affect women. Anyone facing domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, or stalking benefits from better training of law enforcement, resources for court advocates, and support services to rebuild their lives. For the first time, the law specifically includes protections for LGBTQ crime victims. These sexual minorities are often targets of violence, but do not easily fit into the service model designed to serve heterosexual couples and families. Additional protection is also given to Native American women who live on tribal lands. To the benefit of immigrant victims of domestic violence, the reauthorization maintains the process of "self-petitioning" for a visa without needing to rely on an abusive spouse.