{In Her Own Words} – A Celebration of Women

I am not at work today and I spent my last day at work being showered with gifts. I had flowers, and chocolates, and even champagne. It’s not my birthday, and (ummm….obviously) I didn’t get engaged, or anything else worth celebrating (to all of those people who feel entitled to ask me about the state of my ovaries now I am married, no I am not pregnant either). Neither were any of the other women in my office celebrating a big event. Yet we were all treated like this. Because today is International Women’s Day, and in Russia, that is a big deal.

International Women’s Day is a national holiday here, and men are expected to spend the day making women feel special. Restaurants are booked up weeks in advance, flower shops are sold out, and there are chocolate boxes piled high at the front of every supermarket. It’s sort of like Valentines Day or Mothering Sunday. Except this isn’t just something that couples or families celebrate. This is a celebration of every woman, regardless of status. Men are expected to show their appreciation to every woman, whether they are a relation or a work colleague, a friend or a lover.

In fact women also give gifts to women. I met a friend for coffee yesterday, and was embarrassed to find that she’d bought me a simple yet beautiful bunch of flowers, while I’d bought her nothing. I tried to make up for it by buying the coffee, but it taught me that International Women’s Day is also a day for women to celebrate the special women in their own lives. The perfect reason to say thank you to the women in your life who support and inspire you on a daily basis.

I will be the first to admit that until recently, I knew nothing about International Women’s day. It wasn’t something that had appeared on my radar. I only heard about it because it was thrust under my nose whilst living here in Russia. Which actually makes me feel pretty bad. Surely we should all know about a day that is designed to celebrate us?

I did some nosing around, because I was sure it was about more than commercialised gift-giving, and it turns out today is the International Women’s day Centenary. For 100 years, there has been a day that is designed to raise awareness of women’s issues around the world. 

It began with 15,000 brave and courageous women who marched through New York in 1908 as a protest against their long hours, low pay, and lack of voting rights, and the awareness that this raised led to the first National Women’s day being held in the US the next year. The next year, in 1910, at a conference of over 100 women from countries all over the world, Clara Zeitken, a German woman, proposed that there should be a day, every year, and in every country, when not only women would be celebrated, but which could be used to raise awareness of women’s rights issues across the world. This was unanimously passed, and International Women’s Day was the outcome. The first one was held in 1911, 100 years ago. It changed dates for a couple of years, but in 1913 it was held on 8th March, and has been ever since.

Over the 100 years that it has been in existence, the day has worked to raise awareness of the issues that women all over the world face on a daily basis. It has been used to campaign for equal education rights, for equal voting rights, against violence against women, and so many more issues that in some countries are still ongoing. It has created a day where women from all backgrounds, from countries across the world, can feel a sense of solidarity. To feel that there is someone out there who is listening, and who cares.

Today there will be women in the Democratic Republic of Congo walking through their home towns dressed in traditional dress. In Iraq there will be a ceremony to celebrate the empowerment of women. In Vietnam there is a conference to raise awareness of domestic violence. Women and children in Iceland are coming together to raise awareness by singing in a concert. In Sierra Leone they are campaigning for access to free contraception.

But it’s not just on far-flung countries. Inspired by Angie’s post about what is happening in the US at the moment, I wrote a piece on the same topic, and why I thought we women in the UK should take notice. And this led to a conversation, where Angie and Aisling and I realised we wanted to do something. To raise awareness of how far women have come, but also how far the world has to go before women truly are equal, everywhere. To celebrate women and to maybe inspire all of us to at least make ourselves more aware of what women are dealing with, and maybe to really understand what we can do to make a difference. And so, “In her Own Words” was born. 




All day today on AOW and One Cat Per person we will be posting pieces written by women like you. There are pieces on overcoming adversity. There are pieces on why being a women is a beautiful thing. There are pieces that will make you challenge your own assumptions. There are wordy, eloquent pieces, and there are statement pieces. The pieces are sometimes heart warming, and sometimes heart wrenching. What they all have in common is that they are written by strong, inspiring, fabulous women. Like you. And what better way to celebrate International Women’s day than to celebrate you?

In Her Own Words: In Celebration of International Women’s Day 2011” was created to share and celebrate the experiences of women from many walks of life. All day Tuesday, March 8th Any Other Wedding and One Cat Per Person will feature posts written by a collective of intelligent, passionate and opinionated women bloggers from the United States and the United Kingdom. The conversation begins here, but it does not have to end here. We encourage you to comment and create dialogue as well as visit their respective blogs. Be sure to stop by Any Other Wedding and One Cat Per Person throughout the day to read all of the posts in the series. For more information about International Women’s Day, visit http://www.internationalwomensday.com/


Banner: Joshua Gomby

Categories: International Women's Day
9 interesting thoughts on this

6 Comments

  1. Posted March 8, 2011 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Great post I love it. Found you through Twitter and will be coming back!

    Julia

  2. Posted March 8, 2011 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    I love that the Russians make a real holiday of it.

  3. Posted March 8, 2011 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Great first post! I had no idea that so many countries (and ones you wouln't necessarily think of as caring too much about their womenfolk to boot) have today as a national holiday. It is therefore disappointing that the UK lags behind the rest of the world in celebrating the wonder that is woman!

  4. Posted March 8, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    Wow, I had no idea that it's actually celebrated in such a way elsewhere – that's wonderful!

  5. Anna K
    Posted March 8, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    I started off this day so excited I thought I might wee myself.

    We take so much for granted in this country, don't we…and in Sierra Leone they are campaigning. For. Free. Contraception.

    We are so very lucky.

  6. Posted March 8, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    Just read through everyone's posts here and over on OCPP, great idea ladies and wonderful posts from everyone. My head is full of thoughts now.

3 Trackbacks

  • By ‘You can see it in the set of her shoulders’… on February 29, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    [...] fabulous couple of weeks here on AnyOtherWedding. We’re still recovering from the epic series ‘In Her Own Words’ that ran on International Women’s Day. I wrote about how in awe we were of all our [...]

  • By {In Her Own Words} Just the Beginning on February 29, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    [...] ‘In Her Own Words’ is sticking around, thank you kindly. We’re not sure in what form, just yet. We’re not sure how we’ll do this. We’re not sure about a lot of things. But we are certain that yesterday, all over the world, women found their voices. Women who already had their voices used them to shout. Women worldwide spoke to each other and helped each other and we DID SOMETHING. You all did. Everyone that read, commented, tweeted, told a friend-you all did something to help women across the world. Thank you. [...]

  • By A veritable mish-mash on February 5, 2013 at 7:00 am

    [...] us readers. In the previous two years, IWD has been a big thing for Any Other Woman. In 2011, we collaborated with some amazing US bloggers and  ran a series called In Her Own Words . For IWD 2012, we re-launched as Any Other Woman, with [...]

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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