Happy International Women’s Day!
Today, March 8, 2012, marks roughly the 103 annual International Women’s Day. It has been celebrated internationally on dates from the end of February to the middle of March since 1908, and March 8th is a now designated as an official holiday in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China, Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Zambia. Sadly, the United States does not officially recognize the holiday, which is probably why even after four years of dropping not so subtle hints to my friends and family, I have yet to get the day off from work or receive any cards, flowers, or small gifts like women in other countries do.
National recognition and lack of gifts aside, International Women’s Day is still one of my favorite days of the year. It is not only an opportunity to celebrate the contributions and achievements of women around the world, but it is also a great time to reflect on the wonderful women who have made a difference in our own lives. Last week students in my WMS 150 course presented their “Shero” projects, which involves them interviewing a woman who has inspired them, and then writing an essay that not only depicts the strength and spirit of their shero, but also reflects on their shero’s life in relation to our course. Each semester, the mix of touching, funny, and inspiring narratives that my students present always impresses me. They, in turn, benefit from not only sharing their shero’s story, but also from hearing about the amazing women that their classmates know and respect. Ladies, here’s to you!
Ultimately, this is what International Women’s Day is about: sharing our own experiences as women, celebrating the women who have made a difference in our lives, and honoring the women whose voices have been silenced, lost, or forgotten along the way. I have been fortunate to have amazing women as mentors and friends, especially the wonderful colleagues and students I work with in URI’s Gender and Women’s Studies Program.