March is the month that gives the population opportunities to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and (sometimes) Easter, but one important day in March has been overlooked and taken for granted: March 8th is International Women’s Day. This month is also known as Women’s Month. Why celebrate a day and month for women? Women and their achievements have been ignored and seen as insignificant throughout world history. Women still have to work at least twice as hard as their male counterparts to have their voices heard and be seen as equal human beings.
What is International Women’s Day? According to a writer of the Telegraph, Radhika Sanghani, “International Women’s Day is a worldwide event that celebrates women’s achievements – from the political to the social – while calling for gender equality” (Sanghani). For the past three years, I have celebrated this day by wearing red, celebrating the achievements of famous women from the past and present, being proud of coming from a line of strong, intelligent, independent women, hoping to follow in the footsteps of the women in my family and spreading awareness of this day in person and on social media. As an individual sharing what I see as significant in life and society, I am giving voices to the women who were silenced.
I believe people of all genders, sexualities, races, ethnicities, creeds, classes and abilities should be celebrated every day. One of my favorite terms I added to my vocabulary while I was an Undergrad is “Intersectionality, the complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap, or intersect especially in the experiences of marginalized individuals or groups” (MERRIAM-WEBSTER). The term was coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw, an African American woman, in her paper, Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics. Individuals and groups of people have been and remain marginalized in society through racism, ableism, sexism, colorism, classism, heterosexism, homophobia, etc. Individuals such as Temple Grandin (on the autism spectrum, autism spokesperson and professor of Animal Science) have fought ableism.
Why is International Women’s Day still celebrated? “The original aim – to achieve full gender equality for women the world – has still not been realised” (Sanghani). The gender pay gap perseveres in the USA and internationally. Worldwide, women’s health, education and safety against violence remains inferior to men’s. The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), “Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article. Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification,” is still being battled for ratification almost five decades after its introduction to Congress .
Patriarchy has given power and voices to white, heterosexual, and wealthy men. One current example of Patriarchy maintaining power is the current President of the United States who has not been punished for his vulgar actions of sexual assault, racial slurs, anti-LGBT actions, mocking a disabled reporter, etc. His win of the 2016 election led to countless people of all backgrounds internationally creating and participating in The Women’s March. Citizens of the world refused to be silenced. I refuse to allow Patriarchal leaders to silence me.
Dr. Temple Grandin. Photo by Eleni Philippou.
#PressforProgress is the theme for International Women’s Day 2018. The theme is “a nod to the growing global movement of advocacy, activism and support surrounding gender parity and sexism” (Sanghani). #PressforProgress is motivated by the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. The goal of this year’s theme is to “encourage people to continue the vocal fight for equality” (Sanghani). My first step to be involved with #PressforProgress is to “Make a pledge for parity” on International Women’s Day’s website (Sanghani). The URL is https://www.internationalwomensday.com/Pledge. Once the pledge is made, don’t forget to share with your family and friends through social media and e-mail. Be sure to include #PressforProgress in your link.
Photo by Bibi Philippou.
International Women’s Day 2017. Lena Khan (director of The Tiger Hunter) on the right. I had the pleasure of meeting Lena Khan, a female movie director and woman of color.