A day to celebrate the world’s changemakers | Sunday Observer
International Women’s Day:

A day to celebrate the world’s changemakers

28 February, 2021

“What’s the greatest lesson a woman should learn? That since day one, she’s already had everything she needs within herself. It’s the world that convinced her she did not.” –Rupi Kaur, Poet

Women are the backbone of any and every society. They are the core of the human race, for without them, we would cease to exist. However, since ancient times, the importance of women and the power within them has been vastly underestimated and neglected. The “You cannot and will not” attitude that has been hurled at women, generation after generation has resulted in these titans of the society to lose faith in themselves, their abilities and settle for the life that the rest of society unjustly decides they are worthy of.

International Women’s Day, celebrated annually on March 8 is a global day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women all over the world. On this day, groups of people come together to celebrate women’s achievements and collectively raise their voices against discrimination and issues faced by women and fight for equality. International Women’s Day (IWD) has been observed since the 1900s when the oppression of women and the inequalities they faced with regard to matters such as the right to vote, promoted women to start raising their voice against the unfair social norms. In 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights, setting an example for oppressed women in the world to stand up for what they deserve and are entitled to. On March 19, 1911, International Women’s Day was honoured for the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. More than one million women and men attended IWD rallies campaigning for women’s rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination. Later, between the years 1913 and 1914, extensive discussions led to the agreement to mark International Women’s Day annually on March 8, and this day has remained the global date for International Women’s Day ever since. Keeping with the tradition, this year people all over the world will celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8 under the campaign theme, ‘Choose to Challenge’ since, ‘a challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change’, is the message expected to be propagated within society.

“We all fight over what the label ‘feminism’ means, but for me it’s about empowerment. It’s not about being more powerful than men - it’s about having equal rights with protection, support, justice. It’s about very basic things. It’s not a badge like a fashion item.”-Annie Lennox, Singer and political activist.

‘Feminism’ is a term popular in today’s society yet widely misconstrued. What most fail to understand is that, the fight for equality, justice and freedom from oppressive social stigma, for women is one that does not and should not include oppression of another gender and it should not create anger and hatred towards another gender. If the fight for equality for women and the annihilation of detrimental social stigma against women, comes with an ironic cost of teaching people to blame one another and create more hatred, anger and segregation, the futility of the fight would outgrow its benefits. Contrary to an opinion held by many, ‘Feminist’ is not an exclusive title for women who fight for their equality. Any person who believes in and/or fights for equality and social justice for women and stands up or speaks out against injustice against them, earns the title of a true feminist. A true feminist does not need to belittle, blame or oppress another to make a change, a true feminist makes a change by realising, understanding and believing in the unique power and strength that all women possess.

When considering the amount of power possessed by women and their undeniable potential to make a favourable change in today’s chaotic society, the theme, ‘Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a Covid-19 World’ is one that is globally applicable. The horrific pandemic threw the entire world into a dark frenzy of loss and sorrow. Millions lost their lives and their loved ones. Derailing nations’ economies and plunging the global economy into darkness, the pandemic robbed many people of their livelihoods, forcing them into the confinements of their houses while deprivation was rampant. These circumstances, coupled with the necessary lockdown and quarantine orders, caused domestic violence to sky rocket, mostly victimising women, yet again. Although it was not simple to control the situation and uplift a nation’s society amid the chaos of Covid-19, many female leaders around the world, impressively proved to the rest of us, that it was not impossible. The prompt and proactive measures taken and the rules and regulations implemented by leaders of nations such as Germany’s Angela Merkel, New Zealand’s Jacinda Arden, Denmark’s Mette Frederiksen, Taiwan’s Tsai Ing-wen and Finland’s Sanna Marin clearly prove that more women in positions of power, might just be what the world needs right now. Let this International Women’s Day be a reminder that, recognition, respect and celebration of the obvious and incontestable eminence of women and their potential to be leaders and changemakers, is what we as a society can do to help and uplift ourselves and each other. Irrespective of gender, age, religion or culture we must all be determined to take action by raising our voices against and choosing to challenge gender inequality, gender discrimination and gender-based violence that continue to victimise and oppress women around the world.

Only by doing so will we achieve the greatness we hope to achieve for the current and future generations of the world. So as the saying goes, “Here’s to strong women: May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.”