A reflection written by Women’s Center intern, Narges Ershad
It has been many years that, in one particular day in the year many people would repeat a sentence to me and other women’s. “ Happy International Women’s Day”! Throughout the year it has been days and times that people would appreciate me, or we would have critical conversation regarding women’s issues, and see how far we have come. But March 8th was always different. International Women’s Day is celebrated around the world on March 8th, with each country having its own way of celebrating and recognizing the the freedoms or limitations that exist for women. Many organize marches on the streets of their home town, host round tables and panels about the achievements and limitations that women have to that day, and hold undergrounds celebrations and meetings in the countries that people can’t freely gather and talk about the topic.
This year during International Women’s Day, I along with many others from around the world, had the privilege of attending the Commission on Status of Women (CSW) conference that was held at the United Nation headquarters in New York City. Over the course of the week and throughout the conference so much came to my mind, so many people and stories inspired me, and I became even more determined about my career goals and role as an activist. As I marched on the streets of NYC with women leaders and activists from around the globe on International Women’s day, talked to leaders, attended panels and meetings, I felt great affirmation in wanting to be involved, do more, and get others involved in the rights for women as well.
I have always been interested to learn about other countries and ways and which that they are dealing with and addressing issues regarding women in their country. CSW59 was a place to learn and reflect on all I know and always wanted to learn. This is a 2-week long conference that state officials, leaders, researchers, founders and workers of different NGO’s attend each year to tell others about their country’s progress and see what everyone else is doing. It also provides time for leaders to collaborate together on what they can do as a whole to advocate for gender equality for everyone. Many sessions were organized around the topic of gender equality and women’s rights. It was a great feeling to see how all these organizers and leaders have made many great changes in their countries and hear what they are still fighting for through their activism. As topics such as female genital mutilation, sexual abuse, child marriage, human trafficking were discussed throughout the sessions, I was challenged to think more deeply and consider what role I play in making the world a better place for all girls and women.
I really enjoyed all the session, but one in particular really stood out to me was one hosted by U.N Women. They introduced a book called Transnational Feminist Movement. This is a great book that explores that transnational feminist movement and “contributions they have made to global knowledge, power and social change over the past half century.” In this session they also emphasized the importance of having everyone and not just women involved in the movement.
This conference inspired critical reflection within me. After this conference now I can look at gender issues with a more global knowledge and lens. I understand more about how we can help one another to build a better world, while respecting one’s place. I understand that this respect sometimes means having to listen and at times follow if we are asked instead of only taking the charge to lead and demand. It is important to remember how far the women’s movement has come, to recognize the progress and to appreciate all those who have helped us along the way. Just as importantly, we must remember that we have a long journey in front of us and we must keep fighting for all women.