Generating ideas, connections, and action

Celebrating Women

For 23 years I have been hosting an annual brunch for women and girls to celebrate International Women’s Day. Unlike in other parts of the world, International Women’s Day, March 8th, is not well known or celebrated in the US. There is some controversy about whether the day grew out of the labor organizing activities of women garment workers protesting for safer working conditions in New York, or to commemorate the women’s movement for universal suffrage. What is clear is that IWD is a celebration of the power of women organizing and a call to action. As I thought about writing this article after decades of honoring women, I wondered what prompted me way back then as a mother of young children. I thought perhaps world events were a call to action and there were events indeed that year, the Balkan war, the Oklahoma bombings and the OJ Simpson trial to name a few . . . . . afterall, what years have passed that have not called for our attention. Then I picked up the journal from that year where women had written about the theme and the topic of our first gathering.

We wrote about what we loved about being women. I smiled thinking “well, that’s not very political” and then I realized that it is deeply political. I absolutely love being a woman. I certainly don’t love the oppression I experience as a woman, and ironically it’s that common experience that is the source of affinity and community with women who share frustrations and hold up aspirations for better lives, not just for ourselves, but for all of our children and future generations. As we do this, we stand on the shoulders of mothers, grandmothers, and brave women who came before us. It’s worth celebrating women and their leadership, and doing so more than once a year.

 

After that first year, I found myself standing in line at the grocery store dismayed by racks of magazines spreading a very different message objectifying women and girls. It reminded me of how important it is to share the story of who we are, what we have done, and what we are going to do (look out Trump) with our daughters and their daughters. We need to counter the commercial narrative and share everything that is awesome about being women! Starting to sound like kind of a heavy event . . . . not so. There is great joy and fun in celebrating our sisterhood, after all, what could be better than sharing food, laughter and companionship with amazing women and girls. If you are a woman living in the Bay Area and would like to join us next year, its an open and welcoming event. Please send your contact information to deborah@leadershiplearning.org.