March 25, 2022
Reflecting on International Women’s Day
Terri Thayer

Observances such as International Women’s Day provoke a reckoning with the human behaviors that create the need for such observances. But the day also is an opportunity for celebration and recognition; a women’s march in Bellingham in 2017 reflected those same perspectives. (Amy Nelson photo ©)

March 25, 2022
Reflecting on International Women’s Day
Terri Thayer

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The essays, analyses and opinions presented as Community Voices express the perspectives of their authors on topics of interest and importance to the community, and are not intended to reflect perspectives on behalf of the Salish Current.

Tuesday, March 8, was International Women’s Day. As I have been thinking about this observance and doing some research, the world continues to be at war with itself. It was interesting to note that many of the reasons for the creation and recognition of International Women’s Day still exist. Violence. Inequality. Oppression.

In 1910, activist Clara Zetkin proposed the establishment of an International Women’s day. (Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

From the United States to Denmark to Russia and beyond, since the early 1900s women have been fighting violence, labor rights, voting rights and war. Faced with discrimination and bias, women around the world are still fighting. A lot has happened since 1910 when the idea of an International Women’s Day was proposed by Clara Zetkin at the International Conference of Working Women. And a lot still needs to change.

Observances like International Women’s Day force us to reckon with ourselves. It reflects who we have become as humans. From the beginning, our natural desire for more has taken us to a place of harm in which we even had to create an International Women’s Day. 

The power in the celebration of International Women’s Day creates space for a celebration and recognition of the achievements of women. We take a moment to breathe in and feel the victory of small and big battles. We acknowledge the talented and industrious, the care takers and change makers. We acknowledge women taking power in unlikely places like government. The radical thought that women can lead in all spaces. And yet, isn’t that what we have always done? 

Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day continue to be a struggle for me. Not because I believe it shouldn’t be observed but I try to find understanding in what it means to me, as a woman. It is a time of true reflection into my core beliefs and values. It forces me to reflect on my actions and behaviors. Even among women we are forced to battle for equity and recognition within the established white cis-gendered norm. This system brings out the worst of us at times. Our frustration and hurt are often redirected at each other. 

Maya Angelou spoke to the dynamic of standing up for all women by standing up for oneself. (kyle tsui from Washington, DC, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

As I write this, I have come to a revelation. I have a spark of hope and a desire to change. March is a reminder to all of us to love each other. We celebrate women and remind each of us that we exist alongside each other in our individual challenges, that your heartache becomes mine and mine yours. I can relish in the representation that I see when a woman stands in front of people and calls for attention, not in the volume of their voice or the demand of their words but with the impact of their presence. Because I can recognize that she is me and I am her. Her power is mine. My power is hers. 

Maya Angelou once said, “Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.”

Celebration comes with a battle, a challenge, and even a hurt. In order to celebrate we have to continue to push the borders of our current realities not alone but with each other, as women. It is growth. It is progress. It is human. 

Contributed by Terri Thayer

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photo: Amy Nelson © 2022
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