Woman. This is the word based on which there have been songs, movies, entertainment, art, violence, lives, and souls. Who or what is a woman? A woman is “an adult female human being,” according to Oxford Dictionary. The terminology also refers to a girl, a female child, or an adolescent. Women have played several roles; some brave, some heroic, some sacrificial, some supportive, and some underlying. But when one looks past the concept of playing a role, a woman is just another human being, living her life the way she knows best. As women, we were dubbed the “lesser gender” for a very long time that, at a point, we believed it to be a fact. But today, we have learned, and we have grown. And this in itself deserves to be noted and celebrated. For this very reason, we celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) every year on March 8.
Why do we celebrate International Women’s Day every year?
International Women’s Day sees to mark women’s struggle and effort across the generations to set the balance right. It is to honor and respect their sacrifices and bravery of all those who have strived to make a difference or set the score straight. Likewise, it represents women who have lived through all their hardships without giving up or facing it all headstrong. It is to recognize every woman, no matter the variances or the barriers and stereotypes society has cooked up.
The world’s women need and deserve an equal future free from stigma, stereotypes, and assault and a tomorrow that is sustainable, peaceful with equal rights and opportunities for all. The world needs a lady at every table where decisions are being made towards a brighter tomorrow. The IWD’s theme for the year 2021 is Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world. It celebrates the tremendous courage shown by women and girls worldwide in shaping a future with equilibrium amidst recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic while highlighting the gaps that exist.
Theme for 2021: #ChooseToChallenge
Every year, IWD follows a theme highlighting a particular field, concept, or effort. This year’s theme is #ChooseToChallenge. In today’s world, we don’t have to do much to voice our opinions and bring about a change, thanks to the boom of social networking rights. A challenging world is an alert world. We can choose to challenge wherever we are sitting around the globe. Even by choosing to ignore the movement, we are making a choice. It is time we utilized the tools at our hands. It is up to us to create a world inclusive of all the people living in it. From challenge comes change, so let’s all choose to challenge.
When women lead, we see positive results. We have women in almost all fields, sectors and expertise, stepping up and leaving their mark. Still, women under the age of 30 are less than 1% of parliamentarians across the globe. To increase this percentile, 2021’s International Women’s Day is a call for Generation Equality to act for an equal future for all.
A Brief Timeline of International Women’s Day
1908 was the year that started it all in New York City, amongst unrest and civil wars raging across the city, where the women felt undermined. Fifteen thousand women marched through New York, rallying for better pay, shorter hours, and voting rights. Then, the first National Women’s Day was celebrated in the United States on February 28 in 1909. In 1910, a second International Conference of Working Women was held in Copenhagen, where Clara Zetkin (Leader of the ‘Women’s Office’ for the Social Democratic Party in Germany) stepped up and proposed the idea for International Women’s Day. She believed that worldwide, women should highlight their needs and demands every year while also celebrating and honoring the women of the world. The conference involved about 100 women from various countries. Most of them welcomed Clara’s idea, and hence IWD was born. Credited to this birth in 1911 at Copenhagen, International Women’s Day was observed for the first time in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and Denmark on March 19. In 1920, Russia celebrated its first IWD, and subsequently, year after year, other countries joined in. Then, during World War I, International Women’s Day was scheduled to be honored on March 8, as we know today.
Observing this year’s theme, members of ManipalBlog recently put forth their thoughts and feelings about feminism, women, and change. Following are a few strings of words composed by some of our members:
- No one should ever have a say on what she’s wearing. How short it is, it’s none of your concern. – Diya
- Her behavior isn’t a reflection of her availability, don’t judge her on that. –Sarthak
- Stop taking her frankness as a “hint.” – Sarthak
- Marriage and motherhood solely don’t define a woman. – Asmi
- Women who talk about their mental health struggles are not attention-seeking; they are support-seeking. – Sanjana
- The number of men she dates does not give you the right to call her a sl*t. – Anjali
- Nobody gets to make her choices for her. – Arjun
- Men need to take an active role in understanding things that are different in life for women and make an effort to understand those differences. Putting yourselves in their shoes and understanding their circumstances can go a long way in creating a better and more supportive world for them. Men shouldn’t ignore or not support an issue just because it is a “woman’s problem.” Ignoring a problem because it pertains to women is just the same as being a part of the problem. – Arjun
- At the end of the day, a woman is just a human too. Let her lead her life the way she sees fit. – Vaishnavi
Wishing you all a delightful and happy Women’s Day. May the womanhood in you shine with pride and honor. Let us all #ChooseToChallenge this year and leave our marks in the process.
About the Author – Vaishnavi S Nidemboor is an entity filled with whimsical dreams of worlds spun by words and aesthetics. A Media and Communication student. An aspiring writer.