International Women’s Day takes place on March 8 every year to celebrate the accomplishments and determination of women all over the world. This year’s theme is #BalanceforBetter; striving for a gender balanced world, awareness of gender bias, and achieving gender equality for all.
National Women’s Day was first celebrated in the United States on February 28, 1909. It was created by the Socialist Party of America to honor a strike that took place in New York, where women protested against unfavorable working conditions.
In the years following, countries such as Russia, Germany, Switzerland, and Denmark used the day to continue to vie for women’s right to vote and hold public office, as well as end discrimination in the workplace.
The United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day in 1975, and has continued to observe the day ever since.
One of the highlights of International Women’s Day each year is to acknowledge and promote the success of strong women, which are common in the Alma community. Alma students were asked to name women who have been good influences in their lives, ranging from professors, to family members, to even other students.
“Dr. Yates is easily the most influential woman in my life. She’s the Director of Special Education here, and she’s my professor for my special education classes.” said Olivia Kirkey (’19). “She has taught me how to believe in myself, how to love what I do, and to fight for people who need someone to stand up and advocate for them. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have gone into Special Education and be as passionate as I am about it. She’s my mentor for college, my career, and my life. If I could be half the woman she is, I’d be doing pretty well.”
Dr. Yates has influenced not one, but many of her students. “If she hadn’t come into my life, I feel that I would still be very confused on where I want to go with my life,” said Mikayla Pisane (’22).
“For me, it’s my high school principal. I got to know her during my freshman year of high school.” explains Prarthita Nath (’22).“She has changed my life in a way that I probably wouldn’t have imagined happening. Her every single nudge towards me to get into activities that might build me has made me who I am today. If she [hadn’t been] in my life, I would probably not be in Alma right now, pursuing what makes me happy.”
Although professors and other school officials are often instrumental in helping students figure out what they want to do after graduation, family can help do the same thing. “My mom is the most important and influential woman in my life.” says Nino Lazaria (‘19).“Often, we don’t pay attention to what our moms say to us, but [our mothers are] the most loyal and caring person in our lives.”
Although many people may argue that, especially in the United States, gender bias isn’t as severe or common as it was one hundred years ago (taking into consideration that women have made giant strides toward equality since then), inequality is still largely a problem around the world.
International Women’s Day is a time to rally around those that still do not have equal rights, to appreciate the efforts women (and men) have made throughout history to ensure justice for all, and bring awareness and positive change towards the issue. An International Women’s Day Tea was held at the MacCurdy House on the evening of March 8 to celebrate the day. For more information about International Women’s Day and how to become involved in women’s rights activism, visit this website.