So yesterday was International Women's Day - an important date in the calendar if ever there was one! The concept - simply to raise awareness for gender inequality and give the diversity of women that inhabit this beautiful planet a chance to celebrate womanhood. Yet I woke up to a sight to dampen my high spirits as social media presented me with messages questioning the relevance and effectiveness of International Women's Day. Some even wrote to question the non-existence of "International Men's Day" (despite the fact this was founded in 1992, and occurs every year on the 19th of November...) whilst others claimed that if we truly want to be equal we should not celebrate days such as these. And although I respect the view point that if we were in a truly equal society, the importance of International Women's day may be undermined, but the fact of the matter is that we don't live in a world where we have achieved total equality and harmony across the gender spectrum. We still live in a world where women earn less than men, where female genital mutilation happens and gender stereotypes cause women to suffer abuse and oppression on a daily basis. Of course I wish that all of this were untrue, but by not having things like international women's day, we would be denying that the problem of gender inequality exists. Furthermore, International Women's Day is a positive and intersectional campaign that celebrates the lives of so many unheard women. Should we not be using social media to ensure the connectivity of this message in all corners of the world, instead of taking the attention away from an idea fundamental to the progression of society? We should not cleanse our communities of these important campaigns, for they raise awareness that there is inequality in this world that needs to be changed, as well as celebrating so many unrecognised female accomplishments that are overlooked because of the patriarchal structure that effects each and every nation on this planet.
For these reasons, I made a conscious decision to celebrate this Sunday with a wonderful woman friend of mine, by attending an interactive, Virginia Woolf-inspired art installation, at 'The Strong Room', in Shoreditch. The crowd-funded project involved a "Room of One's Own", represented by a see-through cube containing a writing desk and a chair. Participants were asked to add their own messages and illustrations onto the structure, before it would be recycled into a greenhouse to be used by a local charity focused on helping people with mental health issue in recognition of the suffering Woolf experienced throughout her lifetime. Alongside a gin and tonic, it was the most ideal way to take pleasure in a very joyous Sunday.
|Mine and Edie's contribution of the original "woah-man" illustration.|