Today is March 8th. Around the globe, the world is celebrating what has been designated as “International Women’s Day,” tying it back to labor protests for women around the globe. The actual “celebration” has been whitewashed an blurred from its beginnings, hoping perhaps to quietly step over the actual purpose of “Woman’s Day” as it originated in America in February of 1909 by the Woman’s National Committee of The American Socialist Party.
Malkiel and other American women members disagreed with their international counterparts who discouraged working with non-socialist suffrage groups to forment better working conditions. Following the 1907 International Socialist Women’s Conference. On February 28, 1909, the Socialist Party’s Woman’s National Committee with Malkiel at the helm, organized demonstrations across the United States on what they termed “Equal Suffrage Day.” Events were held in Chicago and Manhattan.
Leonara O’Reilly (1870-1927) spoke at the Manhattan event. Nicknamed “the agitator,” she and her family emigrated from Ireland following the Great Famine and she began working as a seamstress at the age of 11 in the factories. A newspaper account of the event can be found here. At the time of the event, O’Reilly was not a member of the Socialist Party. Two years later, in 1910, she joined.