How the world celebrated International Women’s Day

March is Women’s History Month, and March 8 marked 100+ years since the first ever International Women’s Day. So, how did the global community celebrate?

  • Among the thousands of events across India commemorating the day, a calendar release gained a lot of attention– it features photographs of female survivors of acid attacks and shares their dreams for their futures.  As the Times of India writes:

In one photo, survivor Gita smiles brightly in a kitchen wearing a chef’s coat. Nearly 20 years ago, her husband attacked her and their two daughters with acid. While the younger daughter succumbed to injuries, the older one, barely three at the time, survived but lost her vision. Another survivor, Neetu today aspires to be a singer. In the calendar, she poses before a mike, wearing headphones.

  • Muslim women across the world gathered to honor how far they’ve come and discuss how much more needs to be done to ensure equal opportunity. Al Bawaba asks, Is it Islam or culture that facilitates the oppression of women? They write:

What the media often forgets is that it is crucial to differentiate between religion and culture. This is difficult for many because the two are so closely intertwined. However, more often than not culture contradicts religion, especially in the way women are perceived and treated in the Middle East.

  • Brazil’s President, Dilma Rousseff, signed legislation today that categorizes femicide as “aggravated murder,” thus increasing the minimum penalty under law.
  • In a symbolic but potent gesture, the gun salute in Wales’ Cardiff Castle was carried out by women only. The event sought to highlight the often overlooked and growing percentage of women serving in the armed forces across the world.
  • Meanwhile, in Syria, Kurdish female resistance fighters in Syria battling ISIS celebrated International Women’s Day by marching to the graves of fallen female soldiers and adorning them with flowers.
  • Sadly, some demonstrators faced police pressure to cancel International Women’s Day events. Activists in China made it known that they would focus on street harassment– and many found themselves detained by authorities on the day before their demonstrations. (Learn more.) As human rights organizations attempted to spread the news, officials repeatedly censored their messages on social media.  The group continued to repost every single time their messages were deleted:

[On the eve of International Women Day, Beijing police arrested feminist activists] Last night at around 11:30, police broke into the apartment of women’s rights defenders Li Maizi and Xu Ting. Their apartment was raided and they were taken away. They have been missing for twelve hours. Another activist Wei Tingting, was taken away [by police] and has been out of touch since yesterday. [The arrest] may be related to the March 8 anti-sexual harassment action. Are the police afraid of advocacy against sexual harassment? Urge @Pingan Beijing [Beijing police’s official Weibo account] for their release.

      • On Sunday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed a crowd of thousands, stating, “When you hold back half of our population, we cannot realize 100 per cent of our potential.”
      • Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. (Photo: Marco Grob.)Today, a two-week long Commission on the Status of Women kicks off at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. “Yes, much has been done, and much of it worthwhile,” said Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka (right). “However, what we chose to prioritize and act on has not led to irreversible and deep-rooted change.”
      • In addition to grassroot events, African leaders are meeting in South Africa to discuss the state of women’s rights. According to SABC, much of the conference will focus on how empowered rural women will empower entire families, communities, and regions.
      • People across the planet used social media to raise awareness about how much progress has been made– and how much more is needed– with . The Clinton Foundation teamed up with public figures and entertainers to share this video, which takes on issues like unpaid maternity leave and underage girls being forced into marriages. Its light take on serious issues showed the diversity of approaches to honoring women this March.

About Holly

Holly Jensen is a writer and poet who has worked with nonprofits and businesses for over a decade. She also serves as editor of The Ghazal Page, an international literary journal.
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