By Ivana Rihter
I remember waking up on March 8th every year of my young existence to something. It was my aggressively Serbian father waking me up for school with a rose in his hand and two other behind his back for my little sisters. It was a skype call from my grandmother SHOUTING on the other line because any understanding of computer microphone systems has confounded her for decades now. It was my mother, bra-less and in a stained sleeping shirt, making Nutella waffles downstairs and lecturing us about how useless it is to depend on a man for anything.
International Women’s Day holds weight to me. It has a history just as profoundly badass as the women who celebrate it and everyone everywhere should know about it.
In 1909 the very first International Women’s Day was celebrated in the United States as designate by the Socialist Party of America to honor the 1908 garment workers strike. This holiday was born in the wake of women protesting unfair working conditions and only got more intense from there.
In 1913, International Women’s Day became a mechanism for protesting World War 1. Russian women joined the peace movement and held rallies and led protests against the war and with solidarity with other activists.
In 1917, Russian women were still protesting and striking actively until the Czar abdicated and the government granted women the right to vote.
In 1975 the UN started celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8th.
In 1995, The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a historic roadmap signed by 189 governments, focused on 12 critical areas of concern, and envisioned a world where each woman and girl can exercise her choices, such as participating in politics, getting an education, having an income, and living in societies free from violence and discrimination.
If you didn't do anything out of the ordinary on the Tuesday that was women's day this past week. Don't fret because it is annual and now you have almost an entire year to plan what you are going to do next year. I am going to give you a comprehensive guide on International Women’s Day comprised of global information, gentle suggestions and flirty tips to help you celebrate this day to its fullest potential.
Things all the lovely ladies of the world can do on Women’s Day:
· call your mum immediately
· also call your grandma/sister/aunt
· buy yourself some flowers
· dance naked in front of a mirror in awe of how exciting and beautiful it is to be you
· read feminist poetry
· show your genitalia some love and fight anyone who tries to tell you it equates gender because womanhood is not comprised of a collection of ‘female’ body parts
· buy a coloring book and color it with your choice of crayon, marker of colored pencil
· think about child birth
· think about placenta flowing out of you post child birth
· write in your journal
· buy $60 worth of clothing you already kind of own but just want better versions of
· read anything you can find by rupi kaur
· yell at any man who has ever transgressed against you
· take 4 naps
· skip all your classes
· look at your acne in the mirror and try to overcome it because that shit happens and it is always horrifying and you are stunning anyway
· scream at everyone who passes you about how important this day is
· talk about the wage gap
· do laundry
· buy really pretty bras that make you feel like you are god damn flying
· don’t wear a bra
· put a lot of lotion on
· take a 3-hour bath and don’t get out until someone is yelling at you
· listen to a load of TED Talks done by other women
· honestly anything you want to do because this day is about the inherent beauty and pride of being a woman on this earth.
The UN’s 2016 theme for International Women’s Day was “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”. Behind this theme was the hope to build momentum for the 2030 Agenda and the implementation of the new Sustainable Development Goals and focus on legislation under the UN Women’s Step It Up initiative. The UN recognizes the holiday and is trying to close the gender gap, end violence against women and work tirelessly towards gender equality. Although this may seem very bureaucratic and complex in nature, the key targets of the 2030 agenda are ethical, feminist-minded, and wonderful steps in the right direction:
- End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere.
- Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation.
· By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education.
- By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and preprimary education so that they are ready for primary education.
- Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.
(UN Sustainable Development Goals)
The International Women’s Day official website’s 2016 theme was Gender Parity, which centers around the relative access to education between males and females at any given stage. The celebration also brings an awareness about the state of gender parity today, which needs work fast. The 2015 report by the World Economic Forum predicted that the gender gap would not be closed until 2113. The pledge created to fight this bleak prediction reads:
“Everyone - men and women - can pledge to take a concrete step to help achieve gender parity more quickly - whether to help women and girls achieve their ambitions, call for gender-balanced leadership, respect and value difference, develop more inclusive and flexible cultures or root out workplace bias. Each of us can be a leader within our own spheres of influence and commit to take pragmatic action to accelerate gender parity.” International Women’s Day Pledge for Parity
Overall, the focus on International Women’s Day in a broad scope is doing massive things in the fight for equality. Women’s voices should be heard, represented and respected within the context of international politics. This day brings awareness to the inequality plaguing our world as well as awareness to the work of brilliant women everywhere. On a smaller scale, it is a day of self-love and simple adoration for womankind. I remember seeing the men in my family celebrate this holiday with just as much zeal as the women, with flowers and lectures about the work my mother and grandmother did as artists, academics and human beings. I saw this day as a time to draw inspiration from all the feminine forces around me and define what being a woman was going to mean for me.
Everyone creates their own ideas of womanhood which is also why I firmly believe that Women's Day should not exclude any woman, anywhere in the world. Equating Women's Day to a day of vaginal celebration, is exclusionary in nature and looks past a slew of stunning individuals who deserve to feel ownership and joy of this celebration. This day extends to cis women, trans women, women of color, disabled women, women without iPhones, women of all body shapes and sizes, mean women, vegan women, women who write for the odyssey online even though it is often horrible for women, women who only truly love their dogs, women who never went to college, women who don't consider themselves feminists, women with snakes as pets, women in bad relationships, women who do not ever want to get married, blonde women, women who have survived the horror of sexual assault, women who go by neutral pronouns, women who have no kids, women who have 9 kids and one more on the way…overall all women. This is a day to reflect on everything you adore about your personal and intimate definition of womanhood and the other brilliant women who have inspired you to get there. Celebrate as hard as you possibly can next year.