As regulars here will know, since 2015, I have used this day to highlight one woman who has been inspiring to me and others. Like many other women, I also had to get past my annoyance with the Hallmark-ey and consumerist mindsets that this day has generally proliferated. What I decided, though, is that women, overall, have had to struggle a lot to get here — from voting rights to patriarchal societal rules to sexism and misogyny, and a lot more. So if we take one day a year just to celebrate how far we have come and how much further we intend to go, that’s definitely worthwhile.
Beware of settling for the awful social media forwards/shares that celebrate women for doing so well per patriarchal norms and expectations. These faux feminism stances do a whole lot more to harm than bolster the position of women in our cultures.
You can catch up with the previous years here. (And, yes, I’ve left one controversial figure there because I am hoping she will come to her senses.)
This year, the theme is #PressforProgress. From the IWD website:
Individually, we’re one drop but together we’re an ocean. Commit to a “gender parity mindset” via progressive action. Let’s all collaborate to accelerate gender parity, so our collective action powers equality worldwide.
The specific goals related to this theme are:
1/ maintain a gender parity mindset
2/ challenge stereotypes and bias
3/ forge positive visibility of women
4/ influence others’ beliefs/actions
5/ celebrate women’s achievements
Thinking about these goals, I am turning the spotlight on a writer who continues to inspire me even though she often faces criticism for, I guess, not being intersectional enough. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie won me over with her fiction before I began following her on social media. Then I found her TED Talks, her feminist manifesto, her Wellesley address, and a whole lot more. Everything continues to charge my own batteries. And we all need that, don’t we?
Here are some of her inspiring talks:
Her viral Facebook post on how to raise a daughter (or son), ‘Dear Ijeawele’, is now a book. These 15 suggestions are worth internalizing, whatever gender we may be. Read the whole thing but here’s the summary list:
1/ Be a full person. Do not be defined by motherhood.
2/ Do the raising equally with your husband/partner — he/she is not there to simply “help.”
3/ Gender roles are nonsense.
4/ Beware of Feminism Lite.
5/ Teach her to read and to love books.
6/ Teach her to question language — how we say/express things.
7/ Never talk of marriage as an achievement.
8/ Teach her to reject likability and embrace honesty.
9/ Give her a sense of identity. Be deliberate about it.
10/ Be deliberate about how you engage with her and her appearance.
11/ Teach her to question our culture’s selective use of biology as ‘reasons’ for social norms.
12/ Talk to her about sex and start early. Awkward but necessary.
13/ Romance will happen, so be on board.
14/ In teaching her about oppression, be careful not to turn the oppressed into saints. Saintliness is not a pre-requisite for dignity.
15/ Teach her about difference — how it’s normal, ordinary — so she can survive in a diverse world.