Courage, Stamina, and Women

A global movement binding countries, activist organizations, and global companies alike, International Women’s Day marks a day for both motivated reflection and deliberate action. This past March 8th, the designated date for International Women’s Day (IWD), people across the world rallied together to commemorate the often untapped potential of women, spearheading a movement for women’s rights: greater gender parity, economic equality, and women empowerment, among the highlighted topics.

Besides offering time to disrupt gender stereotypes, IWD, since it was officially observed in 1911, honors and celebrates diverse, powerful women and their inspirational accomplishments. On March 8th, influential women—leading business women, artists, and activists—spoke against the persistent inequality facing women, sharing their experiences disrupting the status quo as impetus to redefine gender norms and #BeBoldForChange. The official International Day for Women webpage recognized this hashtag as the selected theme for this year—a collective (call on the masses) and individual (call on yourself) effort “to help forge a better working world-a more gender inclusive world” (International Women’s Day).

The theme, #BeBoldForChange, establishes IWD’s action-oriented mentality commitment to change beginning now. Facebook introduced another trending phrase, #shemeansbusiness, to link shared videos, pictures and other media featuring female change-makers across the world. One such featured story is that of Rameeza Moin. Moin, living in Pakistan, defied deeply embedded gender stereotypes to develop and launch her own health care start-up, Transparent Hands, a crowdfunding platform to raise money for patient operations. Moin detected her community’s desperate need for healthcare, but, instead of stopping there, she— like many of the women honored on IWD for their boldness—ignited real change. In doing so, she not only transcended fear of change and social norms but also the stigmas associated with being a woman.

More importantly, instead of mobilizing behind limiting stereotypes, IWD surpasses any prescribed boundaries, choosing to showcase instead the inherent strength of women across the world. The global movement championing women empowerment originally began among 100 women representing 17 countries. Now, IWD is a holiday in over 20 countries and officially observed  by the United Nations. In the Washington D.C. area, for the 2017 IWD, women and men left work early to symbolize the consequences of a day without women. The Center for American Progress estimates that women with paid jobs outside of the house left work for a day it would cost the United States $21 billion in Gross Domestic Product.

While these marchers were mobilizing in D.C. and elsewhere in the country, across the world, IWD reached millions of global, fierce women. Besides Moin from Pakistan, there are countless examples of women epitomizing courage and stamina. Some of these women spoke at conferences and rallies across the world, names such as Malala Yousafzai, Emma Roberts, Anne Hathaway, and Hillary Clinton. While women and men in the United States dawned the color red, a symbol of passion and strength, elsewhere resistance materialized in various forms. Women in Buenos Aires, Paris, Rome, South Korea, Indonesia, to detail but a few locations, mobilized together—they advocated for greater equality and an end to abuses against women, triumphantly carrying signs with phrases like “it’s women’s turn” and “strong as a girl” (New York Times). Besides these organized marches, in Brazil, an all-female airline crew, recognized as the first airline to fly around the world with an all-female crew, celebrated IWD from the sky. Other women performed cultural dance, such as Masai women in Nairobi, Kenya, while drawing attention to issues such as domestic violence and child marriage.

Throughout the world, International Women’s Day serves as a platform for strong women and men to question and challenge not only the injustices faced by women, but also ongoing violations of human rights. IWD’s prevailing message of equality serves as a guiding principle that applies both to the present and future: obtaining greater women’s rights is an ongoing battle, but the global leaders who have already pledged to champion for gender parity on IWD illustrate how pivotal even one day’s dedicated efforts for women are. IWD is that day; it inspires, challenges, and most importantly, celebrates the global power of women. As the movement encourages, now is the time to #BeBoldForChange and to follow the existing path paved by strong, courageous, diverse women.

Featured photo by Ian Langston

Shivani Gupta is a Sophomore at the College of William and Mary and is a senior copy editor for the Monitor Journal of International Studies. She may be reached at sgupta03@email.wm.edu

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