On March 8, the annual celebration of International Women’s Day is held, bringing together communities of women all over the world and helping them promote their message of equality. IWD commemorates the achievements of women, whether it be in a social, economic, cultural or political aspect. For over a century, this national day has been used to campaign for change. Whether it be in 1908 when women stood together in the streets of New York advocating for better pay, or even today as women in all different countries partake in feminist strikes for abortion and workplace sexual harassment. IWD has always been a significant protest day for women to promote reform.
Women are fed up in Chile. Like those in many other countries, Chilean women are tired of constantly surrounding themselves in a day-to-day environment where the male is the superior figure. On IWD, protesters in cities across Chile have expressed their outrage in a mass feminist strike. Women scream on the streets, crying out for the girls who have been raped or abused. They also shout for equal opportunities and for justice against police violence towards women. However, police still continue to crack down on these protesters by arresting and injuring thousands of them.
Chile is not the only country where authority figures have to resort to violence to stop the women from protesting. In Pakistan, a conservative and religious party holds a counter protest against the IWD march. This radical group is called the Red Mosque Brigade, and its members hurl stones, shoes, bricks and sticks at the marchers to get their point across. These Islamists are determined to conserve Pakistan’s traditionalist culture by tamping down on the annual feminist protests. Despite the oppression that these women face, they still decide to stay brave and refuse to back down until they see the societal change they want. Anam Rathore, an organizer of the IWD march in Pakistan, tells reporters from the newspaper company, Reuters, “You know, whatever they do, they can’t scare us. Their scare tactics aren’t going to work on us.”
Ridgewood High School student, Catherine Flemming, shares her opinion about IWD: “I heard about International Women’s Day over social media, and I find it inspiring because I have done research on many things involving women’s rights and it is amazing to see how far they have come.” Catherine’s exposure to IWD through social media is a similar experience for many millennials and gen z’ers. On the special day, people’s Instagram stories and Twitter accounts are flooded with posts about female empowerment and unity. Here in Ridgewood, teenagers gather through social media to celebrate the accomplishments of women.
People often think that IWD is the one day out of the year where women go all out and protest, but then stop after the day is over. However, they fail to realize that this is only one day out of the three hundred and sixty-five in a year where women in other countries will constantly be on strike for their equal rights. Their livelihood is given up at the cost of their daily battles for basic liberties. Students at Ridgewood High School are fortunate enough to experience an education that provides equal opportunities, but it is important to appreciate that not all girls get the same chance.