Empowering Women

International Women’s Day was first founded in 1914 in order to strengthen support for women’s suffrage. It has since been held annually on March 8th. Junior, Taylor Jones, said, “I think Women’s History Month and International Women’s History Day is an example of women’s growth over time. In my opinion, the celebration of women has increased because we realize how much we need to support each other through different experiences.”
Although the holiday has existed for more than 100 years now, its recognition has been growing exponentially in the past few years. Because of factors, such as social media usage and recent harassment that have come to light, both women and men have felt an increasing need to demand for the social, economic, cultural and political equality of women. Ms. Parker, who leads the Empowering Young Women’s club at Riverbend said, “I think we are seeing a positive shift in society regarding the wish to end the disparity in gender equality as it relates to women. The Women’s March last year was a pivotal moment and the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have also helped to bring some of the issues plaguing women to the forefront. Social media has been instrumental in helping to give a voice and a face to these movements and to the holiday.”
Barbie, the world famous Mattel doll, recently joined in on the celebration of strong women with the release of its “Inspiring Women” Collection. This new group of Barbie dolls are shown in all shapes and sizes and include Olympic gold medalist, Chloe Kim, pioneer Amelia Earhart, who was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, Patty Jenkins, the director of Wonder Woman, and several other renowned women. This new release came as a reaction to surveys of mothers who stated that they wanted better role models for their children to look up to. However, some aspects of their campaign have faced criticism, regardless of any good intentions. For example, Frida Kahlo, who was a supporter of the Communist movement and rejected capitalism, is featured. Utilizing Kahlo’s life accomplishments and recognition as a way to make more money for Mattel seems to contradict her most prominent values.
Other critics of the holiday claim that not all women are being appropriately recognized. Transgender women, for example, are not the focal points of media coverage. On March 8th, many urged women in business environments to stay home from work and take a day for themselves, which contradicts goals of gender equality in the workplace. Free cupcakes and spa treatments were given out by businesses around the country, which many argue trivializes the seriousness of gender issues and the female gender as a whole. Sophomore, Gracelyn Williams, said, “I think the holiday is a positive idea because of all the history of discrimination against women. I don’t think there is anything to protest about though. I think we are at a point in our history when women are equal to men.”
It is important to consider the criticism International Women’s Day receives in order to fully honor every woman to their fullest extent. Ideally, the holiday exists to empower women of all shapes, colors, and sexual orientations to live their lives as unapologetic equals, and to fight for the right of all women to do so. Ms. Parker said, “I think it’s also important to remember that International Women’s Day isn’t just for women, it’s for all of us! I think Gloria Steinem said it best, ‘The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts for all who care about human rights.’”