This year, the international women’s day (IWD) comes in the wake of relentless movement across the globe for women’s rights, justice, and equality. The issues ranging from sexual harassment to equal pay have been raised through various movements such as #MeToo, #TimesUp, and #StopTheRobbery. Along with these issues, IWD focuses its attention on the work of rural and urban women who have been fighting for women’s rights and gender equality. The international women’s day theme for 2018 is “Time is Now: Rural and Women’s Activists Transforming Women’s Lives”. Marches and campaigns have been organized across the world to celebrate the spirit of womanhood.
The United Nations (UN) will celebrate IWD in the Trusteeship Council Chamber, UN Headquarters, New York on March 8. Speakers at the occasion will include UN Secretary-General António Guterres, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Academy Award–winning actress and activist Reese Witherspoon, Tony-nominated playwright, actor, and activist Danai Gurira, and civil society representatives. Prior to the celebration, UN Secretary-General has given a message for IWD. Mr. Guterres outlined, “Achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls is the unfinished business of our time, and the greatest human rights challenge in our world.”
Thousands of people marched to call for gender equality in Central London on Sunday. The “uplifting and inspiring” march was organized by Care to shade a spotlight on inequality faced by girls and women across the world. Banners with messages “Let’s finish what the suffragettes started” and “Close the pay gap” were showed during the rally in Trafalgar Square. Then, this rally joined the the march. Moreover, speeches were given by the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, and activists Bianca Jagger, Helen Pankhurst, and others. Mayor Khan wore a “deeds not words” scarf and highlighted that he was a “proud feminist”.
During the commercial break at the Oscars ceremony which took place on March 4, an ad by Nike featuring tennis star Serena Williams was presented in the wake of IWD. The ad showed footage of the former world no. 1 at various phases throughout her career. It also had her voiceover that stated the ways in which she has been criticized for not being womanly enough. In the footage, she highlighted, “[b]ut I’m proving time and time again that there’s no wrong way to be a woman.” The ad ended with words on the screen, “until we all win”.
As there is no wrong way to be a woman, there is no right way to celebrate and give tribute to ordinary women who play extraordinary roles in communities and countries. A school in Indonesia celebrates IWD with a unique ritual. All mothers are invited at the school and their children clean their feet. This ritual is performed in the school to give a message that, “Paradise lies at your mother’s feet”.
Air India, the national airlines of India celebrated IWD with all-woman cockpit and cabin crew on the flight of Kolkata-Dimapur-Kolkata on Sunday. According to the press release, the flight AI709, an Airbus 319, was operated by Captain Satovisa Banerjee and Captain Akanksha Verma in the cockpit. While, D Bhutia, MG Mohanraj, T Ghosh and Yatili Kath were operating in the cabin. Air India also said it would organize cultural and creative events during the week to celebrate IWD. Different ways were adopted to celebrate the womanhood across the world. The celebration is not enough. Practicing equality and giving women their birthrights are more important to transform lives.