Celebrating International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day was Sunday, March 8. This day is significant globally because of the restrictions legislation, policies and societal norms put on women to silence us. From how an ideal woman should look and act in the Western hemisphere to forced marriages in the Eastern hemisphere, women as a whole have a lot of progress still to make before we achieve global equality.

“Like anything, knowledge is power. Currently, there are over 100 million women missing in the world. Most people have no idea that so many women are missing and the gravity of the situation. Conversely, women are making great strides in education, politics, science, economics and religion by bringing structure and opportunities to other women and girls throughout the world,” says Heritage English teacher, Ms. Katie Tomke.

Many people seem to forget about the great strides women in America have made to overcome inequality. Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States and helped establish the London School of Medicine for Women. Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to run for President of the United States; she ran in 1872 although women were not able to vote until 1920. The first Congresswoman was Jeannette Rankin, who was elected in 1916 and famously said, “I may be the first woman member of Congress, but I won’t be the last;” and now, there are 104 women, but according the the Washington Post, that’s only 20 percent.

Women are largely overlooked. There are hundreds of statues dedicated to men, but when it comes to women, only few come to mind; for instance, the Statue of Liberty or the statues in the US Capitol of Suffragettes of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott.

“When I think of the fight for women’s issues during my career in Congress, I’m often reminded of the women’s suffrage sculpture created in 1971 by Adelaide Johnson, officially called Portrait Monument. It is a representation of three women, Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who led the battle for the right to vote…The statue was originally placed in the Rotunda in 1921, but was removed by the (all-male) Congress; it languished down in the Crypt, which was originally designed as Washington’s burial place, even as the personification of our democracy, Lady Freedom, stood atop the Capitol dome,” wrote former US Senator, Olympia Snowe.

In America, women are still fighting for equal pay for equal work and struggling for reproductive rights, but we are still lucky to live in a country where women are able to do all the things men can. In other parts of the world, women are not so lucky. In some countries, women can’t vote, they can’t drive, they can’t go anywhere without a male chaperon and they’re still seen as property.

“The leaders as well as beneficiaries are today’s unsung heroines. Their bravery, sacrifice and tenacity set a precedent for future generations of women and men to surpass. All research and empirical evidence proves that investing in girls and women is investing in a whole society in which everyone benefits,” says Tomke.

International Women’s Day is about the unity of womanhood, celebrating being a woman and being inspired by women to do things no one else thought was possible for a woman to do. This day is celebrated all over the world even in countries where women have limited rights.

“There is a lot of work to do—and it’s not just in other countries. Inequality and inequity is systematic in our country and most societies. As in all solutions, the answer lies in the knowledge and courage to act. Women will never achieve our full potential without the help of men; and they won’t reach theirs either until we all have equal opportunity. International Women’s Day spotlights the female plight and promise we need to acknowledge, beat and achieve,” says Tomke.

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International Women’s Day was March 8 and March is Women’s History Month. Photo courtesy of International Women’s Day.

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