A Day For The Ages: International Women’s Day 2017

A Day For The Ages:

International Women’s Day 2017

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It’s been a tumultuous 12 months since our last International Women’s day – much has changed and even more has been gained in the last year in terms of equality and women’s rights.

The day has historically been one to celebrate – its origins however were born of necessity rather than celebration, at a time when women were second class citizens and at a crossroads in their fight for equal rights.

In 1914 for example, IWD was held in Germany and England and was dedicated to women’s fight for the right to vote. Women marched from Bow to Trafalgar Square in London. The noise was raucous and undeniable – women were desperate for change. In many countries it was indecorous for a young woman to go out in the streets without a male consort or female elder – the first World War would of course change this. Nevertheless it was a source of deep perturbance for women who were secretly plotting a female revolution the likes of which the world have never seen previously. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be for another four years that they would get the right to vote in both Germany and England.

Photo: The Week.

Emmeline Pankhurst

The very conception of a women’s day brought with it much difficulties, especially at a time when women were free from the shackles of war. Wartime accounts detail how “unaffected” the women were by the trenches, often demonized for their exemption from the fighting – even though of course they were barred from participation. 

“There are so many occasions when a woman is in a tight spot which only she herself can face, that it is rather rare to find her trying to share her burden or ask for assistance on the ground that she is a woman” – Eleanor Roosevelt, My Day, 1939

It’s a day that has come to represent defiance, derision, unity and inclusion, a day that resembles for SWAAY, a Christmas of sorts, where we’re allowed a pause to reflect, not only on the merits of our female peers, but on those of our ancestors – on the women that began the revolution to get us where we are today. It’s day that we can look forward to a future where perhaps a women’s day need no longer exist – because women and men will live equally – unburdened by ubiquitous differences that science and molecular biology determined we would have.

Change is a scary and mutilating concept – 1. because it is mostly irreversible; and 2. because life cataclysmically shifts.

Developing women’s rights became a cataclysmic, irreversible and inexorable change rang in by the twentieth century. And now here we are into the second decade of the twenty-first century and we are allowed the luxury to stand still and admire how far we’ve come.

Yet there are those, most recently perhaps in the European parliament that would still propose women as the inferior, more undeserving of the sexes. In order to belie my repulsion(and many of my peers) – I wish to very proudly announce the achievements of women in the past 2 months in possibly the most braggadocios way possible, while also gleefully regaling the tales of the women who got us here.

Emmeline Pankhurst is undoubtedly one of the most influential female figures in history – not least because of her fight for women’s right to vote, but because of her ability to incite a reaction in those that would not move, that would not change. The mother of five and leader of the famed Suffragette movement was paid homage to by the democratic ladies at the president’s address to congress this past week, and is a constant reminder of the struggle to attain the autonomy we now so freely enjoy.

Photo: Pinterest

Katherine Johnson, pictured above, was the subject of one of the year’s most celebrated movies Hidden Figures. Johnson was one of the ‘human computers’ used by NASA for Alan Shepard’s record-breaking flight in 1961, for which she provided the trajectory analysis.

I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.

— Maya Angelou

After the October Revolution of 1917 in Russia, Vladimir Lenin made Women’s Day an official holiday in the Soviet Union. Women participated in wartime efforts, and a figure much celebrated in Russian World War II accomplishments is that of the female sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenko. She is credited with 309 kills and is perhaps one of the most renowned snipers in history. Wartime women have since become normalized because female participation in armies and warfare is a modern adaptation of the history we no longer have to abide by. While there still lingers a stigma attached to female soldiers, it is becoming normalized, especially in the past year with female legions forming to counter the patriarchal and consuming threat of ISIS.

Photo: Lean In

Marne Levine(pictured above) is Instagram’s COO and is representative of a generation of women no longer accepting the demonstrable glass ceiling rule of thumb for women in tech. It has been a breakout few years for female executives in growing industries such as tech and design and Marne’s achievements both at Instagram, and Facebook are a testament to the future of women in these industries that are finally realizing the benefit of female influence at the helm.

 This women’s day U.N theme is 50-50 by 2030, a hopeful and utterly attainable goal, backed by the theme so many of us have participated and become embroiled in since November, and that is protest. 

The demonstrations held by women across the world after the Inauguration in January were the largest ever by women in written history. Much has been said about the significance of the marches and whether or not they were merely tantamount to a fleeting anger with Trump’s win and Hillary’s loss.

This is not the case.

March 8th 2017 is not about the 2016 election and it is certainly not about protesting the man who currently holds the oval office. Rather, it is about where women can go from here – what we can do to ensure equality and how we can achieve it. So whether you’re participating in ‘A Day Without A Woman’ strikes, abstaining from laundry or cleaning duties, calling your boss out on sexism in the workplace or simply wearing red and luxuriating in your feminine glow – enjoy the day. It’s all yours.

Amy Corcoran

Amy is an Irish writer, avid foodie and feminist with an insatiable appetite for novels and empowering women's writing. She has enjoyed calling Dublin, Paris and now New York her home.

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