Since the mid-60’s, it was agreed celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8. This date is taken as a symbol of a series of claims and rights achievements, especially in the workplace. However, the choice of that date for the celebration is often associated with misunderstandings or historical inventions that need to be elucidated.
It is said that on March 8, 1857, 129 workers died in a fire that charred occurred on the premises of a textile factory in New York City. This fire would have supposedly been intentional. The owner of the factory, as a form of extreme repression of strikes and uprisings of the workers, would have locked their employees in the factory and fired them. This story, however, is false.
However, there was a fire in a textile factory in New York, but it took place on March 25, 1911, in the Triangle Shirtwaist Company, and killed 146 people, including 125 women and 21 men. Most of the dead consisted of Jews. The causes of this fire were the bad wiring factory associated with the composition of the soil and the plant breakdowns and also the large amount of tissue present in the room, which served as an accelerator for the fire. In this tragic scenario was added to the aggravation of some factory owners at the time, including the Triangle, use as a means of containment of riots and strikes the device to lock the employees at the time of the day. At the moment Triangle caught fire, the doors were locked.
A year before that tragedy in 1910 in the city of Copenhagen, International occurred the II Congress of Socialist Women, which was supported by the Communist International. In that event, then a member of the German Communist Party, Clara Zetkin, proposed the creation of an International Women’s Day, without, however, stipulate a specific date. This proposal was the result both of feminism, which amounted at that time, as the revolutionary left currents, like communism and anarchism – including the Lithuanian anarchist Emma Goldman was one of the most important names of the time.
The fire in 1911 was to be suggested in the US as women’s symbolic day (as suggested by Clara Zetkin). Most movements claimed improvements in working conditions in the factories and therefore the granting of labor and electoral rights (among others) for women. Several protests and strikes have occurred in Europe and the United States since the second half of the nineteenth century. The feminist movement and other women’s groups capitalized on these events in order to fit them, sometimes to the revolutionary agenda. It happened on March 8, 1917 in Russia.
We know that the Russian Revolution took place in 1917, or rather, was completed in October 1917. Well, on 08 March this year, women in the weaving sector went on strike and demanded the help of industry workers in metallurgy. This date went down in history as a great feat of working women as well as heralding the Bolshevik Revolution.
After World War II, March 08 began to become gradually the main symbol of tributes to women. The month of March was chose because of the association with fire event in New York, held on day 25. In the 60’s, the date was practically consolidated.