International Women's Day: #choosetochallenge
So, it’s International Women’s Day again. What does that mean?
The 8th of March is a celebration of Women of any class, colour, race, sexuality, and age. It’s a day to remember what women, as a collective, have been through to get where we are today. We remember the suffragettes who stood up for us to vote, we remember Marie Curie, Ada Lovelace, Rosalind Franklin, Rosa Parks, Michelle Obama, Kamila Harris, all women that prove being a woman doesn’t stop you from achieving great things. Not to forget there are 100’s and 1000’s of women who we don’t know the names of that prove this daily.
If you have a spare 9 minutes, I urge you to watch Oprah Winfrey’s speech at the Golden Globes in 2018, a speech that always comes to mind when we talk about women. Oprah is the first Black Woman to receive the Cecil B. deMille Award. She recognises what a powerful role model she is and will become to young girls, not through arrogance but through honour and privilege. One of my favourite lines from the speech is this,
“What I know for sure, is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we have.”
A very simple sentence that really resonated with me. She goes on to say,
“...and I am especially proud and inspired by all the women, who have felt strong enough and empowered enough, to speak up and share their personal stories.”
The film then pans to other celebrities present at the Golden Globes, you can see the pain in their eyes when they re-visit those moments in their lives where they have felt suppression. There’s no questioning that pain, you can see it. There’s no asking to justify that pain, you can see it.
But, after that pain, there’s a heart-warming moment. Oprah tells a story about how women get abused by powerful men and then finishes with “but their time is up… their time is UP” and the roar of the audience, wow. You can see the women stand up and cheer close to tears. Those are the moments that make me feel empowered, proud to be a woman and proud to be a part of this community.
I could type up the entire speech to be honest, because every word she speaks is powerful. So, I really urge you to watch it and I hope it makes you feel as empowered as I feel after watching it.
We have come a long way over the years, but like most inequalities we still have a very long way to go. Which is why I love 2021’s theme for International Women’s Day, #ChoosetoChallenge. Like Oprah says, THEIR TIME IS UP. It’s time to stand up and say no more.
“A challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change”
To the women who feel supressed, objectified, bullied, sexualised, undermined, uncomfortable, we hear you, and we stand with you. Choose to challenge, don’t stay quiet.
To the men who feel proud of the women in their life, and ashamed of sexist men, we hear you, and we stand with you. Choose to challenge, don’t stay quiet.
I have spent the last few hours looking at quotes for International Women’s Day, some resonated with me and some didn’t. I’m constantly trying to find words to represent how I feel about being a woman, but I don’t think I ever will, because who we are as women is far too complex for any quote to explain the feeling and emotion. Still, I want to share some that resonated with me;
“Feminism isn’t about making women strong. Women are already strong. It’s about CHANGING the way the world perceives that strength.” - G.D Anderson
“In the future there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.” - Sheryl Sandberg
“Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it, possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.” - Maya Angelou
Today is a celebration of women, a day to remember what we have been through to get here. The fight doesn’t end with today. Let today, be every day.
I want to leave you with a last thought. How will you forge a gender equal world?
Celebrate women’s achievements – Raise awareness against bias – Take action for equality