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Press For Progress

Thursday, March 08, 2018

That’s this year’s theme for International Women’s Day, a day set aside to celebrate women’s achievements regardless of national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political barriers. But, there’s no reason this has to be confined to just a day in the year, says the Woman’s World Team

As we turn the calendar to March 8, we realise it’s a special day, dedicated solely in celebration of women. But we aren’t confined to a single day anymore. Thanks to social media, you’ve probably come across the increasing volume of the voice of and for women. The current climate is one that’s unfair towards both sexes, and you will have come across it in some form or other.

However, International Women’s Day (IWD) isn’t new. In fact, it has been around since 1911, and the first Women’s Day was observed in 1909 in the United States. Here we’re telling you about this year’s theme for IWD, about notable women personalities through history, which colours you can wear to show your support and about recent campaigns that highlight women’s rights.

Jaded in hues

The revolution for gender equality can be traced back to Britain in 1908 when women stood up for themselves and asked for the right to vote. This is when the colours green, white and purple were designated to the new movement called Feminism. Purple, in that age, symbolised the royal blood that flows in the veins of every suffragette, white stood for purity in private and public life and green represented the hope for a new era of equality.

More than a century later, these colours still stand strong. This year, the colour for International Women’s Day is purple. With its deep hues and bold undertones, a shade of purple is also the Pantone Color of the Year. Purple is a colour that stands for loyalty, dignity, steadfastness and self-respect.

With the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements that are on a rampant spread across the globe, black became a statement colour. At the Golden Globes this year, we saw Hollywood stars stunning in all-black. 

IWD 2018 — #PRESSFORPROGRESS
Image credit: www.internationalwomensday.com

“I am woman, hear me roar, in numbers too big to ignore…” goes the Helen Reddy song ‘I Am Woman’. Truly, women can’t and shouldn’t be ignored. After last years’ successful campaign, #BeBoldforChange, this year the theme urges not just women, but everyone across the globe to press for progress. 

The findings of the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report says that gender parity is over 200 years away, and so the message that resonates through this year’s theme is extremely important. Backed by feminist movements and role models such as Emma Watson and Oprah Winfrey, there is a strong global momentum striving for gender parity and equality in all spheres of life.

With women striving ahead in practically every field, the need to close the gender gap is an urgent one. Today, follow along the lines of Madonna, who shouted “I’m tough, I’m ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a b*!#?, okay,” and join the #PressforProgress school of thought.

RAISING THEIR VOICES, ONE AT A TIME

We speak to a few women who are not only shinning stars in their respective fields, but who have achieved milestones everyone would love to have under their belt.

Poker champion

When you think of poker, if the first picture that comes to your mind is a bunch of elderly men sitting around a table, smoking cigars and playing cards, then you know why it’s called a man’s game. But, Muskaan Sethi wasn’t intimidated by this. She is the first female professional poker player in India. She credits her success to her mother, and says, “My journey started as a recreational player, a dreamer who just wanted to follow her passion against all odds. My mother is my hero; she always believed in me and boosted my confidence to pursue my passion!” She believes that skill in poker does not depend on your gender; she says, “Poker is a sport that values strategic acumen above all else. Talent is never gender-specific.”

Mixing drinks in style

We’re just stating facts when we say that being a bartender is more popular among men. When was the last time you came across a female bartender? But, if you visit London Taxi, you’ll get to meet Ami Shroff, India’s first female bartender. She blames the skewed stats on upbringing — children who are taught that a certain profession, skill or task is suited to a specific gender — and is grateful that that wasn’t the case with her. She says, “As a society, we bring up children in extremely different ways based on their gender, from toys and clothing to all other preferences. We pre-decide what the child’s interests might be based on their gender. But, I was never raised that way. And thus, I never saw much difference between the two genders, and never believed that our opportunities or responsibilities had to be different from one another. I believe that abilities differ as per human capabilities and not for gender-specific reasons.”

Don’t apologise for bleeding

In our country, periods are a still considered a taboo and women in both, small villages and big cities face discrimination in this regard. But, Pallavi Mohan decided that she had had enough. Along with NH1 Design, she started the ‘Don’t Hide It. Period’ campaign and designed bold sanitary napkin covers with unique messages that will make women embrace their periods and not hide it. She tells us, “Menstruation is the most natural biological process that the female body goes through, yet it is considered as the dirtiest thing. When we talk about equality for both the sexes, I think it starts right from these basic access issues like access to hygiene, education, water and fair wages. The fact that women combat such issues on a day-to-day basis and still show up the next day — strong — says a lot about their confidence.”

GIRL POWER

The privileges we are granted today are due to the courage that women in the past have showed, coming forward to bring about a change in society. We talk about two women who spurred change, went against the odds and achieved greatness.

Mary Wollstonecraft

“I do not wish women to have power over men; but over themselves.”

A women’s rights activist from the 16th century, Mary Wollstonecraft realised the place of women in society and worked towards improving it, even before anyone deemed it as a problem. Her novel, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, repudiates the belief that women are naturally inferior to men by arguing that women are considered so because of a lack of education.

Emmeline Pankhurst

“Justice and judgment lie often a world apart.”

Emmeline Pankhurst brought forth the idea of gender equality and the need for women’s rights. She shaped the ideology of how women are perceived in society and she made them realise that they too were meant to hold the same rights as men. She founded the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), and worked towards women’s right to vote.

 

WOMEN TAKE CENTRE STAGE

In recent times, equal rights and fair treatment for the fairer sex have been in the spotlight. So, to keep you up to date with the women’s movements, we’re talking about the hashtags and recent endeavours that have garnered attention.

#MeToo

Image credit: Sheila Fitzgerald/Shutterstock.com

A hashtag that went viral on social media, the #MeToo approach was starkly different from other women empowerment campaigns. Rather than a call for action, the movement encouraged people over the world to speak up about their experiences of sexual harassment, and worked to demonstrate the degree to which sexual harassment and assault has infiltrated our society, especially in the workplace.

Soon after the public revelation of sexual misconduct allegations against American producer Harvey Weinstein, actress Alyssa Milano popularised the hashtag with the aim of giving people “a sense of the magnitude of the problem,” as she has stated in multiple interviews. But, the origins of the hashtag can be traced back to social activist Tarana Burke, who founded the movement in 2006 to reach out and help the underprivileged communities protect themselves from sexual assault and harassment.

Millions of people from across the world shared their stories of harassment on social media, which resulted in the hashtag becoming a beacon of hope. So much so, that the hashtag got the ball rolling for the start of the Time’s Up initiative.

“We all have voices; some are just too loud for the others to be heard.

When you hear #MeToo, will you stand up and say #NoMore?”

– Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement

TIME’S UP

Image credit: Sundry Photography/Shutterstock.com

An activist movement aimed at raising voices against sexual harassment and in the protection of the population which has limited funds and access to media platforms to speak about and spread awareness about harassment, the Time’s Up movement’s origins lie in a letter written by the Alianza Nacional de Campesinas (the National Farmworker’s Women Alliance) in support of the women of Hollywood, who were involved in exposing sexual abuse by producer Harvey Weinstein. The letter was published in Time magazine and it described the sexual assault and harassment faced by female farmworkers in the country.

In support of all women from across various fields and industries, the Time’s Up campaign was announced in The New York Times on January 1 this year. The campaign addresses the systemic inequality and injustice in the workplace that have deterred women from reaching their potential. Setting up a Time’s Legal Defense Fund, Time’s Up has also partnered with other organisations to advocate their cause.

As of February 2018, thanks to the massive support amassed by the movement from the public worldwide, it has raised about 20 million dollars (over 130 core rupees) from 20,000 donors for its legal defence fund to provide aid for victims of workplace misconduct. Administrator of the fund, Tina Tchen, has stated that over 1,000 people have approached the fund for help.

“No more silence. No more waiting. No more tolerance for discrimination, harassment or abuse.”

– Time’s Up

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