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A Celebration of Women on International Women’s Day

Some Other Stuff • Music From The Other Side
Originally broadcast on Sunday, March 8th/2015
Hornby Island Radio – CHFR-FM – 96.5



Featuring Judy Collins, Marianne Faithful, Patti Smith, Marion Williams, Bonnie Raitt, Nina Simone, Joan Baez, Diana Krall and many other special women singing songs written by Bob Dylan.

International Women’s Day first emerged from the activities of labour movements at the turn of the twentieth century in North America and across Europe.

1910: The Socialist International, meeting in Copenhagen, established a Women’s Day, international in character, to honour the movement for women’s rights and to build support for achieving universal suffrage for women. The proposal was greeted with unanimous approval by the conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, which included the first three women elected to the Finnish Parliament. No fixed date was selected for the observance.

1911: As a result of the Copenhagen initiative, International Women’s Day was marked for the first time (March 19th) in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, where more than one million women and men attended rallies. In addition to the right to vote and to hold public office, they demanded women’s rights to work, to vocational training and to an end to discrimination on the job.

1913-1914: International Women’s Day also became a mechanism for protesting World War I. As part of the peace movement, Russian women observed their first International Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February. Elsewhere in Europe, on or around March 8th of the following year, women held rallies either to protest the war or to express solidarity with other activists.

1917: Against the backdrop of the war, women in Russia again chose to protest and strike for ‘Bread and Peace’ on the last Sunday in February (which fell on March 8th on the Gregorian calendar). Four days later, the Tzar abdicated and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote.

Since those early years, International Women’s Day has assumed a new global dimension for women in developed and developing countries alike. The growing international women’s movement, which has been strengthened by four global United Nations women’s conferences, has helped make the commemoration a rallying point to build support for women’s rights and participation in the political and economic arenas. Increasingly, International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.

1928: The Famous Five were five Alberta women who asked the Supreme Court of Canada to answer the question: “Does the word ‘Persons’ in Section 24 of the British North America Act, 1867, include female persons?” and on April 24th, 1928, the Supreme Court summarized its unanimous decision that women are not such “persons”. The last line of the judgement reads, “Understood to mean ‘Are women eligible for appointment to the Senate of Canada,’ the question is answered in the negative.” This judgement was overturned by the British Judicial Committee of the Privy Council on October 18th, 1929. This case, which came to be known as the “Persons Case” had important ramifications not just for women’s rights but also because in overturning the case, the Privy Council engendered a radical change in the Canadian judicial approach to the Canadian constitution, an approach that has come to be known as the “living tree doctrine”. All this because of a handful of women.

1945: The Charter of the United Nations, signed in 1945, was the first international agreement to affirm the principle of equality between women and men. Since then, the UN has helped create a historic legacy of internationally-agreed strategies, standards, programmes and goals to advance the status of women worldwide.

Over the years, the UN and its technical agencies have promoted the participation of women as equal partners with men in achieving sustainable development, peace, security, and full respect for human rights. The empowerment of women continues to be a central feature of the UN’s efforts to address social, economic and political challenges across the globe.


2004: On October 13, 2004, the Bank of Canada unveiled a new $50 bank note on the theme of nation building. For the first time in Canadian history, Canadian women were featured on the note. The bill featured images of the Famous Five, as well as the renowned activist Thérèse Casgrain. The release of the bank note was celebrated in a ceremony held in Calgary, Alberta. Senator Joyce Fairbairn unveiled the $50 note.

There’s no secret about my connection to women, we all come from the wombs of our mothers. So right from the gitgo. In the 2nd World War I was looked after by my Grandmothers. My relationship with Bob Dylan is however another story altogether.

Bob Dylan:
Somewhere around the end of the sixties me and Gary Topp are driving north on Jarvis, the road dipping under Bloor East as we head up Mount Pleasant in his 1967 light brown 4-door Chevrolet Bellair sedan. On the seat, plugged in to the cigarette lighter socket, is a ghetto blaster, from which a singer, with little or no vocal talents, holds forth.

“It’s the words you have to listen to”, sez Gary.

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’

Once clarified, the words separated from the adenoidal voice, the minimal guitar plonking accompaniment, I’ve never looked back. I’d been introduced to the spokesman of my generation. Although Robert Allen Zimmerman would repudiate this claim. Several of the songs from this early album would become anthems for the civil rights and anti-war movements, confirming the idealism that filled our heads, us foot soldiers of these movements.

End Notes:
Much of the music used in this broadcast comes from the 4-CD set “Chimes of Freedom – The Songs of Bob Dylan” [Amnesty International – http://music.amnestyusa.org].
Gary Topp Website: http://www.garytopp.com
International Womens Day: http://www.internationalwomensday.com & http://www.unwomen.org
Nina Simone photograph William E. (Bill) Smith