International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8 every year, but strong, smart, independent women are featured every day in my books. They’re TV reporters, academics, lawyers, doctors, ranchers, Olympians. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that many of my stories are set in Wyoming, also known as the Equality State.
Wyoming women were the first in the nation to vote (in 1870), serve on juries, and hold public office. And in 1869, a law was passed to give teachers—most of whom were women—equal pay whether they were men or women.
In different regions, the focus of International Women’s Day ranges from a general validation of respect, appreciation and love toward women to a celebration for women’s economic, political, and social achievements. This year, the day also marks a call to action for accelerating equal pay and for parity in other economic and social factors. It’s an official holiday in many countries including Russia, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Uganda. Mothers, wives, girlfriends or colleagues are honored with flowers and small gifts, much in the manner of Mother’s Day. In Colorado Springs, several women’s groups including the League of Women Voters, Zonta Club, Soroptimists International and American Association of University Women, held their Women’s Day celebration on Saturday, uniting behind this beautiful poster, by artist Estelle Carol, of the CWLU Herstory Project.
And Google honors the day with a video Doodle showing women and girls from around the world completing the sentence “one day I will …” The cutest might have been a little girl who wants to dance like Michael Jackson, but there’s also anthropologist Jane Goodall, saying, “I will discuss the environment with Pope Francis,” and Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai and Syrian activist Muzoon Almellehan advocating for the day when “we will see every girl in school.”
My salute on this day is to Esther Hobart Morris, the first woman justice of peace in the United States. She was appointed Feb. 14, 1870 in South Pass, Wyoming after the previous (male) holder of the job quit in protest of the passage of women’s suffrage at the end of 1869.
Esther ruled on 26 cases, including criminal cases. None of her rulings were overturned.
Her statue, by Avard Fairbanks, now stands in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall.