You might have noticed your female colleagues wearing red clothing today. Or perhaps they didn't show up at the office at all.
It's all part of the International Women's Day celebration, held each year on March 8. The day has special significance this year as women across the world try to maintain the momentum unleashed during the women's marches on Washington and other cities across the globe last January.
Alexis Wolstein, women and gender studies librarian at Illinois State University's Milner Library, said International Women's Day has been on calendars since the early 1900s, but has a more urgent appeal this year with the future of the Affordable Care Act in question, possible cuts to social programs that benefit children and families, and attacks on women's reproductive rights.
"That's one of the reasons you're hearing so much about it and the related protests going on, not just in the country but globally, to bring attention to what is disturbingly a time when a lot of the rights women fought for over the years are being threatened again," Wolstein said.
Many women stayed home from work or school as part of a Day Without Women protest. Wolstein said women are also being encouraged to patronize female-owned businesses, and to become involved in local groups, like the YWCA, that serve women and children.
She said she has created a Google spread sheet with volunteer opportunities on the Facebook page for International Women's Day.
"If nothing else, if this volunteer opportunity document ends up being distributed widely and gets more people in the community volunteering not just for women"s causes, but for causes that benefit everyone in the Bloomington- Normal community, we'll all be very happy with what we have done," Wolstein said.
The Women's Day celebration includes a free event Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts called "Empowered Women Empower Women," featuring local female community leaders and performance artists.
Proceeds gained from the sale of merchandise at the event will benefit Neville House, a shelter for women and children survivors of domestic abuse.
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