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.
This week, Ursula K. Le Guin, the renowned science fiction writer who died in January, was awarded the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay for No Time to Spare, a collection of ruminations on aging and the universe. I wrote an essay to explore this collection and more of her legacy over at The National Book Review.
Over the past couple of years, I've been highlighting an interesting, lesser-known woman on this particular day. Why? Mostly for the same reason that we mark this particular day: to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievement of women. The 2017 theme for IWD is #BeBoldForChange. So, this year, I'd like to share the story of Noor Inayat Khan -- a bold, badass woman I read about last year. She was also featured on Public Radio International earlier this year as the "Indian spy princess who died fighting the Nazis." She was a Muslim. A refugee. A princess. A guerrilla fighter, trained in bomb-making, sabotage and secret communications. But above all, she was a war hero.