Happy International Women’s Day, everyone! By the time this article is published, the date will have already passed- but there’s no reason not to appreciate women any day and everyday, is there? In fact, it would probably be a better world if we did.
In any case, all sorts of events happened on campus on March 8 to celebrate women’s achievements and to discuss improvements, such as tea with Dr. Laura Stachel, director of WE CARE Solar, an organization that helps reduce maternal mortality in developing countries, and a panel on reducing the gender gap from the UN Association on March 10.
The UN theme for this year’s IWD is ‘A Promise Is A Promise: Time for Action to End Violence Against Women’, which says a lot about the state our society is currently in. This holiday has historically been rooted in optimism in the potential for progress- it has its origins in a socialist campaign for greater rights for women during the 1900s, but an association with communism tainted it after the USSR dissolved.
However, it has since resurged worldwide, and for good reason- although women now have suffrage and other basic rights in some countries (and many countries don’t guarantee even that), there still exists a significant gender gap in pay and opportunity in many places. During the past year alone, the terrible violence perpetrated against women across the world, whether on a bus in Delhi or in the United States army, has received greater attention than ever before. On a slightly more positive note, Malala Yousafzai is a stark example of the power of girls’ education in the face of such hatred. More importantly, these events have sparked outrage against the systems that implicitly allow such abuses to continue.
IWD is powerful not only because it celebrates women for their achievements and the challenges they’ve overcome, but because it is also an opportunity for proactive discussion about the state of women in the world, and how it can be improved. Hopefully the conversations that have been circulating throughout the year will be productively bolstered by this additional awareness. But the more important thing is that they continue beyond this one day and result in real and lasting change for women everywhere.