Friday, March 9, 2012

Che Donne!

The Mimosa is the Official Flower for La Festa Delle Donne
March 8 is called La Festa Delle Donne (Women's Day) and last year I mistakenly took it to be somewhat like Mother's Day. It's not. We learned in our Italian class from our enthused teacher that it's International Women's Day and it's serious stuff. Although the U.S. led (giving women the vote in August 1920) every wave of feminism that has occurred, we don't seem to make a big deal of this day. I found a summary of its history on an old U.N. website and discovered (probably) why.  It has a decidedly socialist and labor-oriented history starting on March 8 1857 when textile workers in New York staged a protest . Socialists in the U.S celebrated this movement with a day in February starting in 1909.  Italy has recognized the day since 1946 and the U.N. made it official as a day for peace and women's rights in 1977. Americans recently have been downplaying all things labor-oriented. We are lucky we still have Labor Day as a national holiday.

Obviously, since I thought the day was non-political (like Mother's Day), I'm not as yet a good overall judge of how seriously it's taken here. I know my Italian teacher was serious about it, but how about the men who buy their wives flowers that day?  I somehow doubt it. I think women in Europe are (like Americans) basically liberated but also have a lot of work to do if they so choose. The men won't choose to take care of it, so women here will have to push to make more progress on economic equality and domestic equality. I can see it's not there yet. Every time an Italian man addresses his conversation to Guido rather than me, or I see women here who are literally always at home, I realize there is work to do. While I certainly know I'm not going to be able to effect change in Italy, I can observe the progress and perhaps we can have a small effect.

I see hopeful things like angry Italian women on talk shows, a SKY TV series called Che Donne that reran some old American TV series about powerful women like "Wonder Woman" (okay so they included "Charlie's Angels", but at least that was a woman-only team). Progress can be painfully slow.


  1. Hmm sorry to argue but US didnot lead the way with enfranchising women. First recorded - 1718 Swedish female guild members could vote in local elections. Later examples: South Australian and Western Australian women could vote in the first federal election in 1901... 1915 Denmark full voting rights, with Iceland.

    You are right in that the suffrage movement in NY did start a women's day BUT it was in 1910 a woman named a Clara Zetkin (Leader of the 'Women's Office' for the Social Democratic Party in Germany) tabled the idea of an International Women's Day. (check out )

    Sorry, pet subject.

  2. Hi Sue,
    Didn't mean to imply exclusivity with my word "led". What I really meant was working on it steadily--not always successfully. It's a lot easier to turn around a VW than a big rig like the US.
    We failed on the equal rights amendment to the constitution. New insights are always welcome. Hey, I didn't know ANYTHING about it until yesterday!

  3. Interesting. I love the photos in this post -especially the three old widows. Great shots!

  4. Thanks, Laura,
    Always good to hear from a strong woman like you!



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