International Women's Day
March 1, 2021
International Women's Day is celebrated on 8 March around the world. It is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women and commemorating the struggles that women have had to face to gain their rights. This day has been celebrated since the early 1900s when feminism had just begun.
This year's theme is #ChooseToChallenge
By deciding to challenge the existing rules, laws, social constructs and ideas in place, we can try to envision the world not as it is, but how it should be. We are all responsible for our thoughts and actions and we must challenge ourselves to become better people and to do better. A challenged world is an alert world.
We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias, inequality, discrimination, and sexism. Collectively, we can work together to create a more inclusive world.
We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller, we say to girls, "You can have ambition, but not too much."
"You should aim to be successful, but not too successful, otherwise you would threaten the man."
We raise girls to see each other as competitors -- not for jobs or for accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing, but for attention of men. We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are.
- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
A Timeline of Feminism through (Her)story
First Wave of Feminism (19th Century)
Women's suffrage, the right to vote, and other legal inequalities
During this time, all money and property that a woman had legally belonged to her husband. So women were not able to own land, write a will, earn a salary, etc., and since they couldn't vote, it was hard to change the existing laws.
So these issues prompted the start of the Women's Rights Women, which began with women and a few men, meeting together in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848 to write a manifesto. It was the beginning of women's suffrage in the U.S.
Second Wave of Feminism (1960)
"Gender has societal origin."
The idea that gender has a societal origin was the backbone of the second wave of feminism. Books like The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir argued that women were considered the lesser sex who were expected to take care of the children and do house chores. This wave focused on women's participation in the labor force, equal pay reproductive rights, sexual violence, educational rights, and divorce. This era marked the legalization of contraception and abortion, divorce laws, and equal pay.
Third Wave of Feminism (1990)
As much as the second wave has greatly helped the advancement of women's rights, the changes made were predominantly in favor of white, middle-class women. Thus, the third wave was focused on broadening the definition of feminism to encompass issues of race, class, sexuality, and other forms of discrimination.
One of the main underlying ideas behind this wave is the acknowledgment of structures of power that create inequality across gender, race, class, etc. It is from there that intersectional feminism was born.
Intersectionality is the analysis of how race, class, gender, and other forms of disadvantage interact to create systems of oppression that are interdependent.
Fourth wave of feminism (2012)
Empowerment of Women
This wave started in 2012 with a greater denunciation of issues such as sexual harassment, body shaming, and rape culture, and so many other issues. It mainly focuses on the empowerment of women, the use of internet tools, and intersectionality. It also challenges gender norms, social constructions, the marginalization of women in society, and greater gender equality.
One example of the fourth wave of feminism is the #Metoo movement that was encouraging women to share their experiences of harassment and assault online.
“I think that now feminism is inherently intersectional feminism – we are in a place of multiple feminisms.”
- April Sizemore-Barber