Dissecting International Women's Day
This March 8, World Pulse hosted an online party in honor of International Women’s Day, mapping celebrations across the globe to highlight the collective energy of women celebrating women.
We collected 60 contributions representing women and men from 26 countries.
Moving artistic expressions were shared, including a powerful assortment of poetry, songs, and paintings. What's more, this virtual event opened the door to a rich discussion on the reality of International Women's Day, drawing forth a broad range of sentiments, cultural practices, and recommendations.
Fear writ large on every face,
Air was filled with shrieks and cries,
Death in the pursuit of every being,
Women were maimed, raped and killed like poor flies,
But, as women (koeshur koer) was blessed with power and grit,
Beholding the bounty of merciful God,
Instead of succumbing to despair, she guarded the treasure (Kashmir) through her faith, for a new dawn of freedom. — Aliya, Kashmir
For some, this day is scarred by the persisting marks of violence, suffering, and patriarchy that plague women around the world—emphasizing the long journey still ahead for achieving gender equality. These voices illustrate the urgency for action, and serve as a powerful reminder that so many of our sisters cannot afford to celebrate in the face of continued oppression.
"I mean not to exploit a very beautiful day of celebration, where women get together, are being spoiled and they have a great time. But my question is WHY? What are we celebrating for, if the other 364 days of the year are gloomy, where women's rights are not being respected. I say it's OK to celebrate after we had another victory: 30% quota of women's participation in decision making, 30% women in the Albanian Parliament." — Bogi, Albania
"As world celebrates International Women’s Day, Somali women have no hope. Sexual and gender-based violence are widespread in their country and it is difficult to determine the number of cases of sexual violence in this society, and even more during emergencies." — Fardosa, Kenya
Others point to how off-track we've gotten from the meaning of International Women's Day, the disingenuous nature of celebrations, and the irony it holds for them.
"Today, March 8, 2012, on International Women Day, my day, the president of my country presents a gift to Afghan women, on their day, that they are the ‘second-class citizens’ of Afghanistan. Today is my day, and what I come to know on my day is that I am not a full citizen of the place I think I belong to. I feel like it is a slap and A SLAP is gifted to me and every woman of Afghanistan on their day." — Rabia, Afghanistan
“Women have focused more on acquiring the [International Women’s Day] fabric than achieving equality and empowerment. Women's day has become more like a celebration of the fabric rather than an awareness campaign." — Nakinti, Cameroon
"We women of Indore took out a rally in defense of women's rights and security, and submitted a memorandum to the Government through the Commissioner demanding for security for women in the light of the increasing instances of gang rapes against women. The typist, who is a male, did not write the word 'rapist' and instead watered down our memorandum. We then had to rewrite the memorandum with a pen." — Subhadra, India
And for some, March 8 was an opportunity to share the determination of women leaders at the frontlines of social change, who serve as an inspiration for what's possible.
"Can you think of how far we actually have come girls? For the first time in the history of education in India and Southeast Asia, women and their issues are going to become the subject matter in the Indian University System." — Urmila, India
"My celebration started with my mother and her struggle to find self-love in this lifetime. When I was done exploring, I realized that her courage to create, to express herself through art, had taught me a valuable lesson in transformation that I now strive to share with the world." — Rae, USA
"We celebrate womanhood today, we embrace our strengths, we remember our sorrows and tribulations, but we applaud our convictions and immense willpower to soldier on even in the most difficult circumstances. That is what International Women's Day is all about." — MaDube, Zimbabwe
Thank you to everyone who participated in our virtual event, you have given us so much to think about in preparation for next International Women's Day. Read all the submissions on our site, or take a look at our Pinterest board which visually highlights our community's voices and artistry.
Congratulations to Subhadra of India, whose submission was picked in our International Women's Day drawing to receive the Flip camera prize. Subhadra plans to use the camera for documenting and reporting both the struggles and progress of the women in Indore.