Credit: Annastaysia Savage 2015
I grew up in upstate New York keenly aware of gender issues and yet, I had never even heard about International Women’s Day until I lived in China in the early 2000s. I remember being in my early 20s, in my first year in the Peace Corps, teaching at a college in rural Southwest China, and being summoned to an all-faculty assembly. My Chinese was still limited so I wasn’t quite clear on what exactly we were celebrating but I happily accepted the arm full of flowers offered to me. Then, I took my place at the front of the assembly with all of the other women faculty. Over the next hour, it dawned on me. This was a celebration - a celebration filled with songs, poems, and speeches about the power of women and how we should be lifted up and revered. I did not understand many of the words that day, but I absolutely understood the spirit. Later, I asked many questions of my students and faculty peers about this ritual and ceremony.
“Yes, we hold a celebration of women every year. Women hold up half the sky!”
“No, we don’t have a day to celebrate men.”
“March 8 is better than Mother’s Day. It’s a day to celebrate ALL women, not just mothers!”
“Yes, women teachers are especially revered!”
The idea of the celebration was marvelous to me. My students further explained that International Women’s Day isn’t just about celebrating women by giving flowers or singing songs (albeit a lovely gesture), it's really about a collective reflection on the achievements of women and the continued work toward gender parity.
In recognition of this day, I call upon you to use your power as a leader, manager, colleague, teacher, partner, or friend to create equity.
Consider these action steps:
I invite you to celebrate women with me. Make a plan to uplift women and create equity... today, tomorrow, and every day.
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