Love Notes

Celebrating International Women’s Day by Kayla Wratten

Every March, I look forward to celebrating International Women’s Day (IWD). I often throw on my running shoes and take part in a fun run to raise money for breast cancer, and always enjoy scrolling through posts on social media as friends pay tribute to the women they admire – from the sister who always supports them to the feminist leader they follow for motivation. While women should be applauded every single day of the year, IWD is a special event that takes the time to appreciate how far we have come in our fight for gender equality.

Credit: UN Women/Yihui Yuan.

When IWD was founded over a century ago in 1911, it was a call for action for everyone – no matter their gender, background or culture – to band together as one big global team. As author and activist Gloria Steinem once said, “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.” A perfect example of what IWD is all about is the beautiful community here at Ripples of Love, a group of generous people doing everything they can to brighten the lives of vulnerable or struggling women.

This year, the global United Nations theme is “Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”. When we think about the women across the globe who have made a difference in the past year, the number of names and faces that spring to mind is overwhelming. In every country there are thousands of women in healthcare working tirelessly to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, and scientists pushing to develop vaccines. In America, 2021’s congress features more women of colour in leadership positions than ever before, while Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg and Australian student Daisy Jeffrey lead the School’s Strike For Climate, campaigning for our planet.

Closer to home there is Isobel Marshall, the 2021 Young Australian of the Year who co-founded the social enterprise company Taboo, a brand of ethically sourced organic pads and tampons. 100% of their profits are donated to disadvantaged girls and women overseas, tackling period poverty and menstrual stigma. In her acceptance speech, Isobel said, “The natural biological function experienced by half the world’s population is still a major reason for inequality. Periods should not be a barrier to education. They should not cause shame, and menstrual products should be accessible and affordable.”

Period poverty is just one of the issues women still face today. This year’s campaign hashtag for IWD is #ChooseToChallenge. As stated on the International Women’s Day site: “We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.” Unfortunately, there is so much work left to do.

We still need to fight for the 200 million girls and women alive today who are victims of female genital mutilation (FGM), the women denied access to abortion, the young girls refused an education and equal healthcare, and those forced into child marriage. In Australia, the national gender pay gap is still a gaping 14%, and on average one woman per week dies at the hands of a current or former partner (according to Mission Australia). Despite these issues – or maybe even because of them – women continue to be a source of enormous strength, hope and inspiration.

Today on IWD 2021, let’s keep raising our voices in the fight for gender equality, while recognising the women who inspire us, cheer us on and are there for us, no matter what. Slow down and take a deep breath. Ask yourself, who are the women in your life that you are grateful for today?

By Kayla Wratten