March 12, 2017, was International Women’s Day in Buenos Aires. Women and men, young and old alike, from all walks of life, marched to reclaim our rights and privileges as women.
Women’s rights are human rights.
But in these troubled times, as our world becomes more unpredictable and chaotic, the rights of women and girls are being reduced, restricted and reversed. Empowering women and girls is the only way to protect their rights and make sure they can realize their full potential.
Women’s legal rights, which have never been equal to men’s on any continent, are being further eroded. Women’s rights over their own bodies are questioned and undermined.
Historic imbalances in power relations between men and women, exacerbated by growing inequalities within and between societies and countries, are leading to greater discrimination against women and girls.
Around the world, tradition, cultural values and religion are being misused to curtail women’s rights, to entrench sexism and defend misogynistic practices.
Women are routinely targeted for intimidation and harassment in real life and in cyberspace.
In the worst cases, extremists and terrorists build their ideologies around the subjugation of women and girls and single them out for sexual and gender-based violence, forced marriage and virtual enslavement.
Despite some improvements, leadership positions across the board are still held by men, and the economic gender gap is widening, due to outdated attitudes and entrenched male chauvinism.
We must change this, by empowering women at all levels, enabling their voices to be heard and giving them control over their own lives and over the future of our world.
Denying the rights of women and girls is not only wrong in itself; it has a serious social and economic impact that holds us all back. Gender equality has a transformative effect that is essential to fully functioning communities, societies and economies.
Women’s access to education and health services has benefits for their families and communities that extend to future generations. An extra year in school can add 25% to a girl’s future income.
When women participate fully in the labour force, it creates opportunities and generates growth.
Increasing the proportion of women in public institutions makes them more representative, increases innovation, improves decision-making and benefits whole societies.
Gender equality is central to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the global plan agreed by leaders of all United Nations member countries to meet the challenges we face.
In Memory of Agustín Tosco (1930 – 1975), beloved Argentine union leader, an important participant in the historic uprising known as the Cordobazo. [see my recent post on Córdoba]
On International Women’s Day, let us all pledge to do everything we can to overcome entrenched prejudice, support engagement and activism, and promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. We must move from ambition to action.
The above is a partial transcript of the UN Secretary-General’s message for International Women’s Day, published on March 6, 2017
“You should never let your fears prevent you from doing what you know is right.” – Aung San Suu Kyi
“Well behaved women rarely make history.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
“Extremists have shown what frightens them most: a girl with a book.” – Malala Yousafzai
“A woman is like a teabag – you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” J.K. Rowling
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” Mother Teresa
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” – Pablo Picasso
“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” – Audre Lorde
“I am Woman
– Maya Angelou
“Do not wait for someone else to come and speak for you. It’s you who can change the world.” – Malala Yousafzai
“I raise up my voice … so that those without a voice can be heard… we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.” – Malala Yousafzai
“I hope the fathers and mothers of little girls will look at them and say, “yes, you can.” Dilma Rousseff
”I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” – Audre Lorde
“Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings.” – Cheris Kramarae
“A woman with a voice is, by definition, a strong woman.” – Melinda Gates
“The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web.” – Pablo Picasso
“The enemy is not lipstick, but guilt itself; we deserve lipstick, if we want it, AND free speech; we deserve to be sexual AND serious – or whatever we please. We are entitled to wear cowboy boots to our own revolution.” – Naomi Wolf
“I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the horns. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.” – Maya Angelou
“I myself have never able to find out precisely what a feminist is. I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.” – Rebecca West
Uh-oh! Women making trouble! Reading books? Writing on the walls? What will they think of next? What can we do to stop them? Go, girls!
“I always felt that the movement was a kind of collage. Each of us puts in one little stone, and at the end you’ve created a beautiful mosaic .” – Alice Paul
“The working woman… source of inexhaustible reserves of devotion, abnegation and self-sacrifice.”
“Humor is one of the best ingredients of survival.” – Aung San Suu Kyi
Some good Buenos Aires BBQ will keep you going when the going gets tough.
“I am a woman with thoughts and questions and shit to say. I say if I’m beautiful. I say if I’m strong. You will not determine my story – I will.” – Amy Schumer
“We get it: people in olden times drank too much, had wild sex, got naked and wrestled in the streets, and on special days dressed up as barnyard animals and summoned the god of hellfire. Now, we sit at work all day looking at stuff on the internet, then go home and look at stuff on the internet. This is called ‘progress.’ It is widely considered to be some sort of achievement.” – from the bulletin of the Jane Austen Society
As miles of marchers passed by, a talented theater group entertained us by staging live performance art in the plaza of the legendary downtown boulevard, el 9 de Julio.
“I am not an angel and do not pretend to be. That is not one of my roles. But I am not the devil either. I am a woman and a serious artist, and I would like to be judged as such.” – Maria Callas
The Metropolitan Police reported a few disturbances at the end of the march. Five or six women wearing black hoods ripped off their bras, set them on fire, and threw them at the doors of a church. The official estimate was more than 25,000 marchers. Other sources reported thousands more. All in all, it was a glorious day for women here in the Lejano Sur – the Southern Cone of South America.
I’m closing with some impressive shots from International Women’s Day all over the world:
To all my Sisters, REMEMBER:
“You are a being of Light… a messenger of Light… a keeper of Light… and a Life-Giver.
Sparkling light scintillates before you as you walk.
Sparkles dance about you as you move.
Mother Earth, la Pachamama, Creator of all Life, gave you the gift of Light to illuminate our world and bring Light into each and every Heart.
Blessings be upon you and yours!”
Over and Out from Buenos Aires