March 8: International Women's Day
Women's rights one of first spearheads
Since the date March 8 was recognized as a holiday by the United Nations in 1978, the day has also been celebrated by many women's groups in the Netherlands. International Women's Day was first proclaimed at an international women's conference in Copenhagen in 1910. March 8 was chosen as the fixed date because two years earlier on that day in the United States there was a mass strike by women in the textile and garment industry for an eight-hour day, better working conditions and suffrage.
The struggle for universal suffrage was definitely a spearhead, even in the Netherlands. The Association for Women's Suffrage had numerous local chapters, including in Amsterdam. The banner of this association dates from the first quarter of the last century. That this is a matter of justice is underlined by the presence of Lady Justice (below), flanked by the term 'suffragii', Latin for the right to choose. This term refers to "suffragettes," the designation used at the time for militant advocates of women's right to vote.
The banner was donated to our museum in 1929; the right for women to be elected and to choose had been introduced in 1917 and 1919, respectively. The date of the gift was March 8 - that can not be a coincidence... Two names are mentioned in old papers as donors: the Association for Women's Suffrage and the Association of Female Citizens.