International Women's Day 2019
Today is International Women’s Day, and The 94 Percent is ecstatic to celebrate with women all across the world. It does not matter if you are an activist, a mother, a student, a freedom fighter, or just a regular schmegular lady trying to survive in this cold world. If you identify as a woman or a girl, today is all about you, and other people around the globe just like you. Today is a day of reflection on the origins of the women’s rights movement and how far we’ve come globally. It’s a time to praise the trailblazers who have come before us, to support those who are currently paving the way with us, and to educate those who are coming after us. We must take the time to assess where we currently stand as women and decide how we can continue to build better world.
This year, the United Nations has chosen the theme, “Think equal, build smart, and innovate for change”; a theme that places an emphasis on innovation by women and girls to achieve gender equality. It perfectly compliments the official International Women’s Day campaign theme of “Balance for better.” It’s true that a balanced world is a better world, and research has shown that gender equality is directly linked to the potential stability or instability of a nation. As we go throughout 2019, we should continue to disrupt the norm of male-led boardrooms, male only panels, or men thinking that they have the right to make decisions about our bodies. These themes not only challenge us to call bullshit on those who would attempt to set the women’s rights movement back, but to also create solutions to the barriers that are still facing women across the world.
As I write this article, I can’t help but to think of the iconic Founding Mothers scene in Jay Z’s “Family Feud” video. Women from all walks of life revised the Constitution and created the “Confessional Papers” during a time that completely mirrors the current state of our country. Jay Z said, “Nobody wins when the family feuds,” and it’s true that we are stronger together than we are apart. We cannot continue to work in silos on women’s rights. We must work together and push an agenda that does not take “no” for an answer. Furthermore, it cannot just be about women from one particular race, religion, sexual identity or class. It must be intersectional, and it must take into account women not just in our own country, but women across the world. It seems like a tall order, but I fully believe that we’re capable of chewing gum and walking at the same time. We can fight for our rights here in the United States and advocate for the rights of other women across the world. We, as women, are a family, and we must do all that we can to support each other, especially women in countries where women continue to be undervalued, suppressed, and killed simply for existing.
Did you know that women in Nepal are forced to stay in huts during their menstruation cycles and that many ultimately die due to exposure to the elements? Or that women in Afghanistan are dying from breast cancer at an alarmingly high rate because they are only allowed to see female doctors? That girls as young as 6 have been accused as witches and as a result, tortured and killed in Papua New Guinea? That mothers in Cameroon are continuing a harmful tradition of breast ironing in an effort to “protect” their young daughters? I’m sure you know about the Chibok girls that were kidnapped by Boko Haram, but do you know what happens to them when they try to return home? I could do this all day.
So, I challenge you, my dear reader, to think about how you can walk and chew gum for women’s rights at the same damn time. How can you advance the agenda for women’s rights in your own country and for those abroad? What innovative solutions are you currently applying to your fight here in the United States that might be helpful for someone else overseas? Furthermore, what can we learn from our sisters in countries like Norway and Denmark, where they have the highest rates of gender parity in the world? How can we tweak their methods for our own uses? Women’s rights is a two way street!
And as always, how can we advance the fight for gender equality in our own country? How can we continue to better allies to our LGBTQ sisters, sex workers, homeless women, those behind bars, etc.? How can we better sisters to each other, in general? Try to find an answer to at least one of these before the end of 2019, and share it with us. We would love to hear from you.