Hunched shoulders, aching from hours of crippling sewing work. Hungry for food, but too poor to afford it. Hunted by intolerable conditions. Posters on the wall saying “if you don’t come in Sunday, don’t come in Monday” signed by The Management.
Doors locked during work hours as a ‘health and safety’ measure. The number of clothes needed would increase, so pay would go down. Children forced to work, despite the dangers of the factories. Production must go on.
This is what 15,000 working women bravely protested through the streets of New York on the 8th March, 1908. Their courage shaped the future of universal suffrage for women. They had clear, fair demands. Higher wages. Shorter work-days. Voting rights. No child labour.
The protest became known as The Garment Workers’ Strike and it inspired people across the world to stand up and demand equality for women. It was decided to dedicate the 8th March to International Women’s Day, to honour The Garment Protest along with the courageous acts of the past, but also to continue the fight for women’s rights.
This year’s theme is #BalanceforBetter, and it’s about pushing for gender-balance in business, government and the media. The International Women’s Day website puts it eloquently:
"From grassroots activism to worldwide action, we are entering an exciting period of history where the world expects balance. We notice its absence and celebrate its presence"
Purple is a meaningful colour to the IWD, as it has historically been associated with labours for gender equality. In the early 20th century the Women’s Social and Political Union commissioned jewellery and purple was a thematic colour throughout which has remained pertinent among activists today. Amethyst was used in some jewellery pieces. We recently featured our amethyst collection, as it is the birthstone of February.
To celebrate International Women’s Day we are going to be offering 15% off earrings on the 8th March. As activist Rose Schneiderman said in a famous speech:
"The worker must have bread, but she must have roses, too."