Happy International Women’s Day!
So, what have women been up to this year? What are we up to now? Hell, let’s get real and talk about what it really means to be a woman, since this is a day that has a long history and even more significance.
The first International Women’s Day was in 1911, and was started by, yes, suffragettes. So, even though this day was originally created for white women, I like to use March 8th to recenter my work on all women: trans women, women of color, women with disabilities, poor women. It’s natural for us to focus on ourselves, so a scheduled day to re-focus is really important to me.
Focus often requires reflection, so let’s review what happened in 2017.
The theme of International Women’s Day 2017 was #BeBoldForChange and was aimed at committing to take big actions and bold steps for gender parity. It was the rise of the #MeToo campaign, started 10 years ago by Tarana Burke, which, in retrospect, seems like the perfect example of boldness to me.
Because of this movement, the conversation around sexual assault and harassment has changed. Driving the conversation is the bravery of survivors coming forward, sharing their stories with the world. And, where conversations change, policy follows.
But, as much as we want to celebrate these victories now, there are still many challenges ahead. Based on a report issued by the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report, gender parity is over 200 years away.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t have that kind of patience.
Conversations are great… but policy is better. The 2018 theme for International Women’s Day is #PressforProgress. But let’s be clear — we must really and truly evaluate the progress we want and how far we need to go. We must be aware of how the conversation around pay equity often focuses on the income of white women and leaves women of color out of the conversation. We must be aware of how sexual assault affects trans women (particularly trans women of color). We must be aware that reproductive justice does not only mean abortion access. And, we must remember that it’s women of color who have laid the groundwork for the conversations we are having now, and that their voices must not be overrun as we push forward into policy.
If you are new to this movement, there is much to learn and catch up on. I understand you may be energized and want to do everything right now, but please, take a moment and look at where you are and learn how we got here.
There are many who came before and did the incredible work that got us to this point, and they are often overlooked.
Use this Women’s Day to find your place amongst these heroes and to lift up all women for liberation.
Here are some names of folks to follow and learn from in this journey: Tarana Burke, Ijeoma Oluo, Sherronda J. Brown, Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory, Hannah Drake, Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Winona LaDuke, amongst others. Follow these game-changing women and they will open a thousand more voices to your ears.
Again, happy International Women’s Day to everyone.