Monday, March 8, 2010

International Women's Day and San Francisco's own International Museum of Women

International Women's Day (8 March) is an occasion marked by women's groups around the world. This date is also commemorated at the United Nations and is designated in many countries as a national holiday. When women on all continents, often divided by national boundaries and by ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic and political differences, come together to celebrate their Day, they can look back to a tradition that represents at least nine decades of struggle for equality, justice, peace and development.

International Women's Day is the story of ordinary women as makers of history; it is rooted in the centuries-old struggle of women to participate in society on an equal footing with men. In ancient Greece, Lysistrata initiated a sexual strike against men in order to end war; during the French Revolution, Parisian women calling for "liberty, equality, fraternity" marched on Versailles to demand women's suffrage. The struggle continues today because the issues that impact women are our issues - poverty, racism, injustice, violence. As the saying goes, women hold up half of the sky.

San Francisco has it's own museum dedicated to women. The International Museum of Women, (I.M.O.W.), is a social change museum that celebrates and values the lives of women around the world. The museum's programming is offered locally in the San Francisco Bay Area as well as globally. The museum began as the Women's Heritage Museum in 1985 and in 1997 became the more encompassing International Museum of Women.

The need for a larger museum was realized in 1997 when a group of Bay Area teachers sought a place to take their students. One of these teachers, Elizabeth L. Colton, who had been on the board of the Women's Heritage Museum, spurred the drive to create a larger museum, in part through private funding.

Since its rebirth under the new name in 1997, I.M.O.W. has organized more than seven major exhibitions, hosted a number of public fora, developed educational curriculum for schools and created a number of speaker series programs. Current on-line exhibits include "Economica: Women and the Global Economy" and Women on the Map."

No comments: