This International Women’s Day, we stand in solidarity with all the women in the world.
To the women of Iran, whose revolution against patriarchic theocracy is not sufficiently seen or heard, you have all our respect. To the women of Ukraine, you are heroes, activists, mothers, daughters, sisters, and invaluable contributors to the good fight: we see you. All over the world, structural systems of inequality continue to undermine the roles that women play in society. At the current rate of progress, it will still take almost 300 years to reach full gender equality worldwide. Today is not a day to celebrate, today is a day for reflection and activism.
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International Women’s Day means something different for everyone. To highlight this diversity of thought, we have asked members of the Steering Committee of WIIS Brussels to share what the day means to them.
“International Women’s Day always makes me feel grateful for the women of previous generations who fought so hard and allowed us in Europe to take women’s rights for granted. From the international trailblazers we all know – Emmeline Pankhurst, Simone de Beauvoir, Gloria Steinem, Simone Veiland the list goes on – to those closer to home who never stood down, who kept their heads up and transferred the principles of dignity and equal rights from generation to generation. My great-grandmother, who skied in a long skirt and went on to become one of the first female ski champions of her time, to my grand-mother and her sisters, who – while born between 1912 and 1920 – all went to university, some in foreign countries, became lawyers, doctors, researchers, and worked their entire lives. To my own mother who worked stood on the barricades with her sisters in the 1960s and 1970s and worked hard, showing her sons and her daughter that women could aspire to anything. The fight continues, here in Europe and of course beyond. Let’s continue to find and celebrate inspiring women the world over, on IWD and every other day!” – Pauline Massart
“On International Women’s Day I think with gratitude of the heroines of the past who with exceptional bravery stood their ground and set the foundations for gender equality and women’s empowerment throughout history. In many regions of the world, we have experienced significant progress in women’s empowerment. At the same time, we have observed backlash against women’s rights putting some of the hard-fought achievements at risk. Everyday women around the world continue to stand up for their rights with utmost bravery: Women in Iran and Belarus are fighting against their regime’s oppression, and many are paying a heavy price for standing up for human rights. Following the Taliban take-over, a drastic reversal on women’s rights in Afghanistan has been taken place with tremendous consequences. Until today Afghan women are risking their lives while protesting. At the same time in a different context, in the US and Poland hundreds of thousands of women have been protesting against severe restrictions of their reproductive rights. On 8 of March and every other day of the year, I’m full of gratitude for all the women around the world uniting and standing up for gender equality. There remains much work to do!” – Mona Koehler-Schindler
“We walked a long way since the most basic human rights, like the right to education, were not granted to women. Still, in several parts of the world, women are suffering. From Afghanistan to Iraq, women are still fighting to conquer what seems ordinary for some of us living in more prosperous parts of the world. We cannot watch silently and stop in front of these widespread injustices. International Women’s Day should continue to exist until women’s rights are protected and respected by every country on this planet. It should continue to embody a call for action to all women of the world, to continue fight for their rights. It should also incarnate a strong message of resistance to oppression and dominance. I commend all the women that have been at the forefront of this fight, and I encourage the younger generations to do more. Without the first we would not be here, without the latter we could not imagine a better future. Let’s all embrace this call for action and continue to fight for more equal societies around the world.” – Diana De Vivo
“On this day, we remember all the women from Latin America that have been fighting non-stop for human, women, LGBTI, indigenous and environmental rights to make this world a more livable and peaceful place. From Berta Cáceres whose life was taken away eight years ago for standing against privatizing water in Honduras to Marielle Franco whose fight for LGBT rights in Brazil will not be forgotten. The 8th of march is a reminder of what we have achieved, but also how far we still have to go when it comes to ensuring women’s basic rights as the right to live, to have a voice, and to feel safe.” – Angelica Arámbulo
“Women’s day in 2023 reminds that history has not progressed the same way for the men and women of this planet. Every progress comes with effort and battles, but women’s path to progress too often must confront pettiness, domination, prejudice, discrimination, injustice, and entrenched privileges that resist change. Far too often, women experience insecurity, both physical and financial, in real life or online, at home and in public spaces, at peace and during war, and are consistently failed by their governments and institutions. In many areas the bar for women is abysmally low in 2023 as girls are banned from school, women are prevented from and punished for taking to the streets in protest against the harsh expectations of their societies, mothers with childcare duties are excluded from the workforce, female bodies continue to be the battle ground of political ideology and religion, and as the end of life approaches, aged women are forced to a life of indignity by a welfare system that has discriminated them all along. I see resilience, imagination, determination, intelligence, endurance, entrepreneurship, diversity and courage in many of my sisters close-by and around the world. And yet too many obstacles are placed in the way of women bringing their gifts to our societies. We can do more and we can do better.” – An SC member
“International Women Day always has a bitter-sweet taste for me. On the one hand, sadness, as women’s basic rights are still threatened, even where we thought the fight was won. On the other, joy at the empowerment and celebration of generations of women working for fairer and more inclusive societies. Here’s hoping that today’s sisterhood will transform IDW into a day of remembrance of the days of yore when women were discriminated against. A past era.” – Florence Ferrando
“2022 has been a tough year to be a girl, a woman, a person with uterus. It has been harder and scarier than most of the 26 years (not much, I know) that I have on my shoulders, as we have had to watch our sisters’ rights, futures and opportunities getting stripped away, if not even our own. On the Day dedicated to remembering and commemorating the fight for the Rights of Women, let’s remind ourselves that the fight does not stop, and none of us can be complacent. No woman, man or person can be complacent when faced with the reality that it was just a biological lottery that made him, her or them not be the one in the line of fire… for now. On a brighter note, the collective feeling of sisterhood that always surrounds this day gives me strenght, if not joy, because although we may not be walking forward in a straight line, and our path towards equality is rocky, detouring for long ways at times and taking us up and down mountains we may not think we are prepared to climb, I am reminded that none of us are walking alone.” – Ilaria Giustacchini
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