Reflecting on progress made by women, celebrating and appreciating the beautiful men and women who have continued to fight for the Girl child and Women’s rights, applauding acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have extraordinary roles in the history of their countries and communities, and educating about the importance of acknowledging the essential contribution of women worldwide to human development was the special way with which the Eastern Mediterranean University Pugwash club joined the rest of the World on the 8th day of March, 2018 to celebrate the International Women’s Day.
The International Women’s Day is celebrated annually on March 8th to commemorate the movement for women’s rights. The day was predominantly celebrated by the socialist movement and communist countries until it was adopted in 1975 by the United Nations. With this year’s theme as #PressforProgress, it promotes a strong call-to-action to press forward and progress gender parity, an unprecedented global movement for women’s rights, equality and justice.
The event which was held at 12:00pm by the Business and Economics Yard witnessed the attendance of students and staff, who strongly support women’s rights. An exciting program was planned by the Pugwash club to educate all in attendance about the importance of Women’s Day and Feminism.
Hamidreza Monibi, a teaching assistant at the Political Science and International Relations department said about Women’s day, “ Years and years of suppression have led to a movement that is supposed to bring about freedom and equality to women’s lives and this faces oppositions, and it is necessary for men and women to try to recognize and understand all the embedded inequalities amongst men and women in the society, some of them are hidden in our social structures, even as little as changing women’s family name after marriage is one of the hidden social structures that leads to inequality and It is necessary to educate not just women but men also about these inequalities”.
Educating the students in attendance about inequalities, a series of games were played, and skits were also acted to portray the existing inequalities in the society, for instance, men earning more wages than women in the work place, unfair judgement of domestic violence and abuse. Mo’min El haj an International Relations student spoke about Women’s fight for equality saying, “It’s a good effort and I hope one day we won’t need a day called International Women’s Day because equality will be embedded in everyone, I hope we would give women more than a day to be celebrated so people can learn more about its importance and be woke”. Samah Saddeldin, also an International Relations student supported the idea saying, “Women’s Day is important and should be a day to raise awareness among men even before celebrating women, the fight for equality is very necessary and we should all seek equality not just among genders but also among races, religion”.
Just like a single moment can spark a revolution, women came out to participate in the event organized by the Pugwash club and expressed their gratitude of being appreciated. They shared their thoughts on the event, the move for equality and also what being a woman means to them. Speaking to Rahama Sadau, a Human Resource Management student and successful Nigerian actress, she shared her thoughts on Women’s Day saying, “It is a great thing, women should stand for each other and fight for each other, and every-one knows there is no equality between the man and the woman. I don’t define Feminism as being able to do what a man does, just give me the right as a human being. I think equality should be our main topic, so we can all have our equal rights” she also expressed her dissatisfaction of women earning less than men in the Nigerian movie industry. Faith Abhulimen from the International Relations department said, “Women’s day is another day women can voice out about the injustice they face in the society, and it’s a day they can voice out who they really wish the world would see them as. It’s not enough to celebrate it once in a year though; it should be celebrated monthly in my opinion.” Rawaa said, “The fight for equality is definitely important not just for women but for the society as a whole because in order for a society to live up to its full potential, Women must live up to their full potential also”.
As we record a drastic change in modernization, technology, culture etc. we also record changes in gender roles as more women stand up to fight for what they believe in and pursue their dreams. With all these changes, the 21st Century woman is elevated from bondages of the past and she now stands on an enviable pedestal. On being a 21st century woman Rawaa said, “Being a 21st century woman to me means being a modern woman, it means I acknowledge all the women who fought for my rights, it is empowering to be a 21st century woman I am able to acknowledge all the dynamics of how far we’ve come”. Zaid Am Ali said “To be a 21st Century woman means to have authority over your own self, to not compromise your goals and success just for marriage, marriage should not be the only thing a woman aspires for, an education is important for a 21st century woman to achieve her goals and move forward in life”. Audrey an Architecture student said, “It is tasking to be a woman in the 21st century because we are the leaders of tomorrow and we are the ones responsible for our society to be better”.
What better way to celebrate International Women’s Day than to acknowledge the women who inspire us every day? Acknowledging women who inspire her, Miss Sadau said, “Oprah Winfrey, Hilary Clinton, Malala Yousafzai, Priyanka Chopra and so many other amazing women inspire me because they lift each other and always talk about how we can empower and support each other”. “My Mother and Oprah Winfrey inspires me, said Sophia, Oprah Winfrey inspires me because she is one of the first African talk show host and its very influential to me since I am African. My mother also inspires me a lot”. Rawaa said, “So many women inspire me on a daily basis, however, the one who inspires me the most is my mother because I admire her strength, she’s always taught me to fight for what I love. She makes up a huge part of who I am, she taught me less about fitting into glass slippers and more about shattering glass ceilings”. Audrey said, “Women who inspire me are basically women leaders like Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama and also women who made discoveries”. Faith said, “There’s a lot of them but my top three are Oprah Winfrey, Condoleezza Rice, Michelle Obama because they represent women who are intellectually really smart and can maneuver their way even in a world of men”.
It was a wonderful event organized by the Pugwash club and we are optimistic that the program made a great impact in making everyone in attendance understand the fact that women and men are equal beings and are also equally responsible for building a better future.
By Jemima Atii