Vancouver marks centennial of int'l women's day

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The International Women's Day centennial was celebrated in Vancouver Saturday afternoon with a parade of women's rights groups, unions, political parties, music bands and common citizens.

Participants were encouraged to wear costumes dated back to earlier periods of women's rights movements, ranging from the suffragettes of the early 1900s who fought for women's voting rights, to the Rosie the Riveters representing the American women who worked in factories during WWII.

Organizer Jane Staschuck said the parade is meant to celebrate the immense rights battles that women had won, such as the right to vote, to fair wages, and humane working conditions, and to remember the sacrifices they made through their courageous activism over the past century.

"We're celebrating the fact that women have joined together to make their voices heard, that we're seeing more women running for political office," said Staschuck.

But she is quick to point out that the celebration of the past should not overshadow the real message of International Women' s Day --that much work still remains to be done in the fight for true equality.

For example, Staschuck said many women in Canada still do not have access to universal childcare, and still do not earn as much as men.

Parade participants basked in the joyful celebration of women' s empowerment in the modern age.

"Women have been struggling, for decades and decades and we've finally reached the point where we have a fair amount of liberation," said Amy Cotton, a young woman who came with her girlfriends.

"We can be out here in the streets, and we can be dressed up in crazy fabulous costumes, and we can blow bubbles, and it feels really really awesome to be here on the 100th anniversary because 100 years ago, I think this parade was little bit different," she said.

The first International Women's Day was observed after women from 17 different countries gathered at the 1910 International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen proposed an annual day that would call light to women's issues and press their demands of the time.

In 1911, the International Women's Day made its debut in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, where more than one million women and men attended rallies campaigning for women's rights to vote, to work, to be trained, and to hold public office.

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