By Katie Coulthard | @coulthard_katie
Happy International Women’s Day, people.
Today is reserved for women or anyone who identifies as female. So if that’s you, here’s cheers!
Today we celebrate the achievements and accomplishments of ladies in our lives and across the world, reflect on hardships women have and continue to face, think about the sacrifices people have made to secure opportunities and freedom experienced by some (sadly not all) women and take some time to talk about a two words many consider impossible to achieve- gender equality.
To mark the occasion, hundreds congregated at the State Library tonight to demand equality, fairness and justice for all women.
— David Donaldson (@davidadonaldson) March 8, 2016
Organised by the International Women’s Day Melbourne Collective, the rally focused on three specific demands- women’s liberation, decolonisation and economic justice.
IWD Melbourne Collective spokeswoman and coordinator, Elizabeth Thorne says the call to action is an important annual political event, “whatever race, ethnicity, immigration status, class, age or ability” one may be.
Alexia McDonald attended the rally and said it was humbling to see positive reactions from so many, including observers on the sidewalk.
“You don’t normally see that at marches. People were really supportive of us and our cause,” she said.
Alexia decided to attend the rally to represent her own and other women’s struggles, in particular issues relating to equal pay.
Protestors carried banners with slogans including ‘inequality is no laughing matter’ and ‘don’t tell me to smile’, in response to street harassment.
The beginning of the rally heard many speakers including representatives from childcare union, United Voice, who told crowds of their concerns about current wages in the industry.
The childcare sector is 94 per cent female and workers are calling on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to address pay conditions.
Worldwide, this year’s International Women’s Day centres around #PledgeForParity- a spotlight on the gender pay gap. The theme comes in wake of the World Economic Forum’s 2014 prediction it will take until 2095 to achieve global gender parity. That’s 80 years, folks. 80.
“Economic justice for women is the cornerstone of everything we do. Without it, we can’t hope for social justice. Unfortunately, money is power,” Elizabeth told Catalyst.
“Until women are at an equal footing economically speaking, we won’t see an end to misogyny.”
Issues such as reproductive justice, sexual liberation, transgender rights, combatting racism and an end to violence against women also dominated discussion at the rally.
The foundations of feminism and tribute to the women’s suffrage movement weren’t forgotten either.
“A lot of women these days take for granted the hard victories and sacrifices made so we can all enjoy the freedoms we currently have,” Elizabeth said.
“The more we talk about and appreciate those victories, the better we’ll all be in embracing the fourth wave of feminism.”
Following widespread protests across the country to condemn the treatment of refugees, the #LetThemStay campaign was acknowledged in tonight’s gathering.
The IWD rally has been followed by an after-party at Trades Hall celebrating and is part of a week-long Women’s Rights at Work (WRAW) Festival.