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Why do we need an International Women's Day?

International Women's Day celebrations in Seoul. Photograph: Truth Leem/Reuters

International Women’s Day celebrations in Seoul. Photograph: Truth Leem/Reuters

Source: The Guardian

Four gender-equality campaigners share their views on feminism and the backlash against women’s rights.

Ruby Johnson and Devi Leiper O’Malley
Frida: the Young Feminist Fund

What does it mean in today’s world to take an established tradition and make it your own? We are young women of the millennial generation, with more than 100 International Women’s Days (IWD) gone by. We live in an era of increasing inequalities of wealth and resources and continue to witness a frightening backlash against women’s rights gained to date.

IWD remains meaningful to us because we see young feminist activists claiming this day as their own, gathering at the forefront of today’s most heated disputes, demanding access to abortion, amplifying voices of sex workers, or seeking justice for the disappearances of women human rights defenders. They are casting off the taboo of feminism, applying new social media technologies and drawing on the arts to make these celebrations relevant and expressive of multiple realities, identities, and movements.

Each year, IWD falls around the annual session of the UN commission on the status of women (CSW), a key policymaking space for governments to make commitments to women’s human rights. However the CSW remains a somewhat exclusive space that many people have not heard of or find difficult to enter and influence. Global decision-making spaces for women’s human rights continue to fall outside of the popular gaze. This is a dangerous disconnect. IWD is just one day, while the CSW could potentially guarantee that every day will be women’s rights day in practice.

Despite the barriers, young women are finding alternative ways to contribute to an age-old struggle. Whether hashtagged in tweets, composed into songs, or included in official statements at the UN, we believe the groundswell of young feminist activism can revitalise the power and potential of decision-making spaces like the CSW or IWD with radical solutions, strategies, and spirit.

The value of IWD is in our ability to integrate these new voices and find the threads that weave us together. This will enable us to strengthen interconnected movements and collectively speak truth to power.


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