This article is a collection of statements about what International Women’s Day means to our writers, in celebration of #IWD and in the run up to Polsoc’s Women’s Weekend!
Lily Meckel - To me, International Women’s Day is a day to pause, reflect on and celebrate all the women who have and are paving the path towards a more just, equal and inclusive society, wherein everyone, no matter gender, sexuality, race, religion or nationality can live their lives freely and achieve every goal they want to. It acts as a reminder to keep pushing for equal rights, for women’s voices to be heard around the globe and reminds us that we are stronger together.
Shefali Nandhra - To me, celebrating women and their achievements through raising awareness, is not only the central purpose of IWD, but also an integral part of the narrative belonging to anyone who cares about human rights and gender equality. Positive change is truly change for all, but for women, change is also progress. Quite simply, the seeds sewn by uplifted women, will uplift other women, and pave the road of equality for all.
Anna Donoghue - International Women's Day is an interesting day because it allows us as a global community to reflect on certain successes and failures. This year, I saw an interesting tweet from UN Women (attached below) where they noted that no country had fully achieved gender equality. This is something in Western developed countries that I think we often forget about, there are still significant boundaries to social, political, and economic equality between gender, and it's something that still needs to be fought for internationally.
For me, with time, I think it is important that with IWD, we begin to be recognise the issues faced by trans women, and those with non-normative gender identities who are heavily impacted by many of the issues that CIS women face.
Ilgın Özkul - Although International Women’s Day is a chance for all of us to celebrate women and their achievements, as a Turkish woman, I am not close being done worrying about gender inequalities. I am not saying this only because of the still prevalent assumptions, stereotypes, conditionalities put on women but also because of the normalisation of rape, domestic abuse and femicide incidents in Turkey. I am saying this because I am not given the right to feel safe in my own country. I believe I am not only speaking on behalf of Turkish women, but also those women who have to survive in countries with the worst rates of gender-based discrimination and violence such as Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and much more. In celebrating women’s rights, it is of course important to see how much we have achieved in terms of reducing these inequalities to a minimum. However, it seems like this is only relevant through a Western lens. With most countries becoming increasingly autocratic and women being neglected in this process, the question becomes if we, overall, are progressing or regressing. Therefore, it is crucial for all of us to be aware of what’s happening around the world and what kind of injustices women face and thus, engage with a collective fight for a life of freedom for women of all ethnicities, nationalities, races, ages and backgrounds. When we start to realise them, IWD becomes political. It becomes political because 137 women are killed every day by a partner or a member of their own family, according to the UN. This is what IWD means to me; seeking out the truth when there are gender-based injustices and lending out support to women who are repressed and do not have a voice.
Lois Gilhooly - International women's day means a chance to come together and celebrate how far we've come in terms of gender equality and the progression of Women's rights. This year alone we have the legalisation of abortion in Argentina, new laws concerning consent in Denmark and Sudan abolishing FGM. All of these deserve to be celebrated. But most of all I think there is something inherently special about international women's day as it allows our international community to rejoice in our victories but also acknowledge how far we have yet to come.
As well as on an international level, it makes us reflect on our individual lives and the amazing women who have shaped them. The Instagram stories filled with mothers, sisters, and friends show this so well. The fact is we wouldn't be here without women and despite all the challenges many have faced and continue to do so, be it friends, families, or huge international communities we have this day to bring awareness and celebrate together.
IMAGE - Flickr (Province of British Columbia)