International Women’s Day
“It’s the fire in my eyes, And the flash of my teeth, The swing in my waist, And the joy in my feet. I’m a woman. Phenomenally.” _ Maya Angelou, poet
International Women’s Day takes place on the 8th March and we want to celebrate some of those that fought (and continue to fight) to strive for equal rights. For hundreds of years, women across the globe have battled for their right to be educated, to work, to vote, to be heard and to have the same choices and opportunities as men.
In gratitude of those who marched before us, women in the UK can walk the streets safely, make their own choices, live independently and enter into the workplace without anyone really batting an eyelid. So on one sunny afternoon in February on our rooftop terrace (it what was a freakishly hot day in London!) the Dictionary team came to together to discuss who we should put forward to celebrate their contribution towards equal rights. With so many brave and inspiring women to choose from we finally decided upon the following:
Founded by Emmeline Pankhurst in 1914, the Suffragettes were a militant group who fought for the right for woman to vote in the UK. They marched through the streets of London to Whitehall whilst hundreds of spectators shouted abuse at them just because they dared to ask for a voice. Ostracised from their communities, imprisoned, force-fed, sexually assaulted and violently attacked, we are eternally grateful to these courageous women who finally won the fight in 1928.
Friedan book, The Feminine Mystique, was published in 1963 and is often credited for sparking the second wave of feminism in the 1960s and ’70s. The book became an instant best-seller and continues to be regarded as one of the most influential nonfiction books of the 20th century. At the time women everywhere voiced a similar message of discomfort from what Friedan dubbed, “the problem that has no name.” The book helped transform public awareness and brought many women into the women’s movement.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Since becoming the second woman to ascend to the US Supreme Court in 1993, the Justice has fought tirelessly to give voice to the voiceless, protecting the marginalised with her liberal-leaning rulings. Ginsburg’s inspiring work on the bench includes speaking up for women, minorities and LGBT community and has always strives to overturn civil-rights violations, no matter who they affect.
Ginsburg is 83 years old and has been chipping away at the glass ceiling within the legal system for decades and only wants female representation to continue when she eventually steps down, hoping that there will be a time when all nine Supreme Court Justices are women.
A trailblazing voice for black women, Davis played a crucial part in the Civil Rights movement. The political activist was a key leader in the Black Power movement, and though some of her more radical positions and role in political protests have been deemed controversial, she has relentlessly fought to champion the progress of women’s rights for over six decades. She most recently served as an honorary co-chair for the Women’s March on Washington in 2017.
Deborah Francis White
Deborah Frances-White is a comedian and feminist writer who also delivers seminars to women in business on subjects including charisma, diversity and inclusion and is passionate about helping women in business to unlock their personal power. She also the host of podcast The Guilty Feminist, a founder member of The Spontaneity Shop, co-author of The Improv Handbook, stand-up comedian, screenwriter, corporate speaker and executive coach.
Winfrey never saw herself as a feminist but was driven to start her own television show when she received a lower wage than her male peers when she started her broadcasting career. Motivated to make a difference she has now built an empire dedicated to helping women grow and develop and, most importantly, thrive. She has also since developed the Opfrah Winfrey Leadership Academy Girls.
On 9 October 2012, while on a bus in the Swat District in Pakistan, after taking an exam, Yousafzai (age 15) and two other girls were shot by a Taliban gunman in an assassination attempt in retaliation for her activism; the gunman fled the scene. Yousafzai was hit in the head with a bullet but her condition later improved enough for her to be transferred to a hospital in Birmingham here in the UK.
The attempt on her life sparked an international outpouring of support for Yousafzai and she became a prominent activist for the right to an education. She has since written books about her experiences, has met and debated with world leaders and has made speeches around the world campaigning for human rights. In 2014, she was the co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize along with Kailash Satyarthi of India. Aged 17.
Watson captured everyone’s attention with her moving speech in front of the United Nations that launched a new initiative for gender equality. Her work for the UN reminded us all that feminism isn’t just a fight for women—it’s for men to join in as well. Since, she has launched the #HeForShe movement, her own feminist book club and plenty of conversation about what it means to be a feminist today.
Watson is also is very vocal on Twitter and worth following for her insights @EmmaWatson
Ushering in a new wave of feminism, Tarana Burke started the #MeToo movement back in 2006, more than a decade before it was heard around the world. An inspiring leader for victims of sexual assault and harassment, Burke’s work has allowed hundreds of thousands of women across the globe to speak up about their own sexual assault experiences and helped open the floodgates for Hollywood’s Time’s Up movement. Burke’s “me too” concept created a safe space for women to speak up and fight back against sexual misconduct and marked a new chapter in the future of feminism.
And if you are looking for some strong, clever and witty people to follow on twitter then try some of these links:
Amandla Stenberg @amandlastenberg
Stenberg is best known for her role as “Rue” in The Hunger Games series, but on Twitter she’s all about empowering women of color and showcasing them. She also takes her time to school everyone on culture appropriation (*cough* Kylie Jenner *cough*).
Andi Zeisler @andizeisler
Zeiser is the co-founder of Bitch Media, a nonprofit feminist media organization based in Portland, Oregon. She isn’t afraid to shade the New York Times, enough said.
Findlay is a blogger, writer, speaker and appearance activist. She speaks about what it’s like to have a visibly different appearance. She knows how to use a hashtag, and never fails to say the right things.
J.K. Rowling @jk_rowling
Rowling is best known for creating the wizarding world of Harry Potter. She is a writer, film and television producer and great at captioning gifs on Twitter. Visit her page and you will see what we mean.
Caitlin Moran @caitlinmoran
A novelist, journalist and a columnist for the Times, Moran is funny, witty and takes no prisoners. Well worth reading her books and following her tweets.