The Importance of International Women's Day

Anyone outside of the male gender has been systematically set back for generations. There is no way to ignore that deeply corrupt truth. Whether it is due to religious purposes, personal preferences, or societal standards, those who do not identify with or possess the “XY” chromosome pair are marked as less than. Thankfully, throughout time we have been able to unravel these constructs one by one. Slowly, but surely, each day minorities are knocking down walls and breaking barriers to achieve gender equality. March is Women’s History Month, a time where we celebrate the progress made as well as acknowledge how much more we need to do. International Women’s Day is then celebrated on the eighth day of this wonderful month. The International part should be stressed because in Western culture acceptance has come to be much easier than it has in some other cultures around the world. Nevertheless, we still persist. 

Women’s Day is partly a commemoration of all those who made their voices heard, who lead the pack in establishing real change. It all started with the suffragettes, fighting for a woman’s right to participate in our democracy. It is sometimes unbelievable to think that we have been in this fight since 1848 when Elizabeth Cady Staton stood up and delivered her “Declaration of Sentiments” in Seneca Falls, NY. She stood united with her fellow women there, asking for change. Her revolutionary line: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal.” launched a movement to last generations. She fearlessly challenged the white, male lawmakers by using their own rhetoric towards them- she was a total boss. Along with her were revolutionaries such as Lucrtia Mott, Martha Coffin Wright, and Jane Hunt who never wavered in asserting the dire need for basic, civil rights for women. Because of leaders like them we won the right to vote, the right to work, and received the freedoms needed to take on the world as a woman. They always persisted.

Since then, the movement has bolstered even more. Alice Paul introduced the Equal Rights Amendment in 1923, calling for complete equality for women. To this day, it still has not passed nationally and it is perhaps one of the most debated bills of all time. The 1960s and 1970s were both decades full of accomplishments. It was the start of second-wave feminism. Betty Friedan is noted as a champion for change by beginning this wave with her groundbreaking work, The Feminine Mystique. Along with her, many other women took matters into their own hands to broadcast the bigotry being directed towards them. Gloria Stienam exposed the mistreatment of women in her revolutionary work as a journalist, most notably by going undercover as a Playboy Bunny and writing “A Bunny’s Tale”. This article displayed the mistreatment of women within male-dominant environments, and ultimately allowed for many people within society to recognize the injustice females were experiencing. Women such as Corretta Scott King and Angela Davis were trailblazers in fighting for women of color to be treated as their white counterparts in the 1960s. Maya Angelou used her talent of writing to introduce literature that highlighted the innate racism and sexism happening throughout America. Native American feminist figures such as, La Donna Brave Bull Allard and Leanne Betasmoke Simpson have been on the forefront for fighitng for the represnetation of indigenous women and to ensure their community’s conerns are heard. America belonged to their people first, and despite that Native American women are consistently one of the most underrepresented groups in the U.S. Each have used their writing and protests to make their voices and issues heard. Women in policy, such as Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton, have become more common as well. They contributed to an exponentially larger amount of females in government and have proven that they should be a part of the each decision made in D.C. Now, today, we have the most diverse Congress to date; equipped with game changers like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and Lisa Blunt-Rochester (just to name a few). Young girls are finally able to look at the television and see some part of themselves. These powerful women are letting them know that they can accomplish anything. From the #Metoo movement to Roe v. Wade, we are still persisting. 

Now, to place emphasis on the International part of this day. Thousands of women across the world are still fighting for rights that some women may take for granted, such as education or access to menstruation products. One of the biggest champions for international change currently is Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan. At the young age of 15 Malala was almost killed by her own government for wanting an education and advocating for other girls to have the right to one. Since then, she has not shied away and has used her platform to promote equality for those who do not have simple, unalienable rights like freedom of speech. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian novelist who advocates for the deconstruction of gender roles. She pushes for people to recognize the internalized gender constructs we subconsciously create. She reaches to young people across the world to unlearn these fabrications of what a woman ought to be. Along with them, seventeen- year-old Greta Thunberg of Sweden is fighting for change. She is an imperative part of the climate movement, but she also uses her platform to bring issues having to do with women to the attention of the world. She views their struggles through the lens of climate change by explaining how the environmental crisis affects women, especially those in poverty. Despite the massive impediments, such as their governments at home and criticisms from the West, these women have never stopped persisting. 

While International Women’s Day is a time for the celebration of where we are in terms of gender equality, it is also a time to reflect on where we still need to go. This day is also used as a platform to acknowledge that, despite the tremendous amount of work done there still several shocking issues such as: gender wage gaps, 36 states that do not have non-discrimination laws, governements trying to regulate the female body, people of all genders being extremely underepresented in media, over 150 countries in the world who have laws that are purposefully sexist, and currently 1 in 3 women experience physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives. Earlier this year, we had the most diverse pool of candidates ever vying for the presidential nomination, and now all that is left in the field are white men. Despite the generations of tireless commitment, there is still work to do. So, take this International Women’s day to honor those who inspire you, but do not forget, the fight is not over. We must persist.