Tuesday 8 March 2016

This International Women’s Day, Celebrate the Words of Women

“Women are severely underrepresented in the news today. Only around 1 in 4 people heard or read about in news are women.”

Facts such as this, reported by UN Women, remind us of the continued importance of International Women’s Day, celebrated each year on March 8. In honor of the holiday, we have highlighted below the handful of women whose words and actions have successfully captured the media’s attention in recent weeks:

Queen Rania (Jordan): Unwilling to accept a Charlie Hebdo cartoon that suggested drowned Syrian migrant Aylan Kurdi would have grown up to sexually harass women, Queen Rania commissioned Osama Hajjaj to depict an alternate viewpoint: an adult Aylan Kurdi as a productive member of society. “Aylan could’ve been a doctor, a teacher, a loving parent…Thanks @osamacartoons for sketching my thoughts,” Queen Rania tweeted.

Jordan, Queen Rania, Aylan Kurdi, political cartoon, SumRando Cybersecurity, VPN, Secure Messenger
[Source: Twitter]

Manar N (Saudi Arabia): At Starbucks in Saudi Arabia, single people and families enter and sit in separate parts of the establishment. When a dividing wall fell in a Riyadh Starbucks, it was replaced with a sign reading, “PLEASE NO ENTRY FOR LADIES ONLY SEND YOUR DRIVER TO ORDER THANK YOU.” In response, Manar M tweeted, “#Starbucks store in Riyadh refused 2 serve me just because I’m a WOMAN & asked me 2 send a man instead.” A flurry of activity on Facebook and Twitter followed, and within a week, the Starbucks in question was again open to all. 

Jacky Fleming (United Kingdom): Fleming’s latest book, The Trouble With Women, caught the Guardian’s eye. The book of cartoons draws attention to the absence of women from history and challenges the notion that women are less able than their male counterparts. According to Fleming, “Depriving girls of their history is control through lowered expectations.”

Jacky Fleming, The Trouble With Women, United Kingdom, SumRando Cybersecurity, VPN, Secure Messenger
[Source: The Guardian]

Guris Ozen (Turkey): Citing security concerns, Istanbul banned this year’s International Women’s Day rally. When it continued as planned, the Turkish police broke up a crowd of hundreds with rubber bullets. Ozen told Reuters, “We have always said that we would never leave the streets for the March 8 demonstration, and we never will. Neither the police nor the government can stop us. You see the power of women. We are here despite every obstacle and we will continue to fight for our cause.”

Loveness Mudzuru and Ruvimbo Tsopodzi (Zimbabwe): Former child brides Mudzuru and Tsopodzi recently argued to Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court that child marriage is both illegal and unconstitutional—and the court agreed. According to the Huffington Post, Mudzuru is “happy that we have played an instrumental part in making Zimbabwe a safe place for girls. Raising a child when you are a child yourself is hard.”

Given the current state of women in the media, the words of women are rarely found in headlines, but it is well-worth a reader's time to find them. Every day, women exercise their right to free speech in order to stand up for their gender and for human compassion, but too often these stories aren’t heard.

The United Nation's theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality.” If we hope to achieve equal opportunities and rights for women by 2030, we must start by making room for the words of women today.

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