Doors open 3:30p
Program and Action 4:30p – 6:00p
Queen Kapiolani Hotel – Ballroom (150 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815)
International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. In Honolulu, we will be honoring women’s work and recognizing the labor roots of this commemorative day. Tourism is Hawaii’s #1 industry, with major departments like hotel housekeeping made up of mostly women workers.
We will spotlight the stories of women in Hawai’i who had the courage to stand up against unsafe working conditions and disrespect on the job and provide space for others to share their stories. We will discuss organizing to create real change in the fight for gender equality and will take action on current issues affecting Hawaii’s working women today.
About International Women’s Day
The first National Woman’s Day (NWD) was observed across the United States on February 28, 1909. It was organized by the Socialist Party of America in remembrance of the 1908 strike of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGU). These workers, primarily women and immigrants, were striking to speak out against their deplorable working conditions. Their plight escalated after the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, the deadliest industrial disaster in the history of New York City and one of the deadliest in U.S. history. Because the owners locked the doors to the stairwells and exits to prevent workers from taking unauthorized breaks and to reduce theft, many workers could not escape. 146 workers died as a result. Most of them were young immigrant women.
ILGU later became the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE) in 1995. Then in 2004, it merged with Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union (HERE) in 2004 to create a new union known as UNITE HERE. Here in Hawai’i, UNITE HERE Local 5 represents over 10,000 workers in the hospitality, healthcare, and food service industries. Like the garment workers who sparked Women’s Day, a large number of Local 5 members are immigrant women.
Women workers have made a lot of progress since the start of IWD, but more work needs to be done to create safe and equitable working conditions for women. Nationally, research has shown that women and people of color are particularly vulnerable to workplace injury. Housekeepers are more prone to workplace injury than coal miners. Locally, 100% of housekeepers at the Aston Waikiki Beach and Hotel Renew reported that they feel pain on the job.