With Strength, With Wisdom, With Solidarity: Reflections on the Importance of International Women’s Day

As women throughout the world gather to observe International Women’s Day on this, the 100th anniversary of the New York City Bread and Roses March, they do so in the face of a seemingly intractable culture of impunity that enables increasingly horrendous acts of violence against women.

In Kenya, women are being gang-raped in refugee camps. In Afghanistan, young girls are forced into marriage. In Mexico and Guatemala women continue to disappear, the victims of brutal rapes and murder. In Iraq, women are being indiscriminately killed in the name of male honor. In the U.S. military, women are more likely to be assaulted by their fellow soldiers than by any enemy. The list, truly, is endless.

While International Women’s Day is, and rightly should be, a day to celebrate the lives and accomplishments of women, a recent statement by the Gabriela Network is correct in pointing out that IWD is, and also must be, more than that:

We need to return our Day and our Month to their rightful and correct significance in both national and international arenas. Though March was meant to be a celebration of women’s achievements, International Women’s Day and International Women’s Month were also meant to be the time when the women’s voice regarding national and international events was meant to be the loudest. State violence has been foremost in women’s minds, as this has been the most destructive of life and the conditions for the well-being, not only of womankind, but of the entire human species.

March 8th has been co-opted and turned into a so-called commemoration of women’s achievements, as though there were no more need for further achievements. It is time to return March 8th to its historic role as the day women challenge government decisions and policies inimical to peace, justice and the preservation of the human species. It is time for March 8th to be known as the day when women unite and march against state policies dangerous to the health and safety of the nation.

This must be a day when we name and acknowledge the atrocities that are daily perpetrated against women throughout the world. It must be a day to honor our strength and wisdom and renew our commitment to ending these assaults on our lives.

On International Women’s Day we must indeed insist on being, as Alice Walker so eloquently put it, the ones we have been waiting for. International Women’s Day is a time to stand in the place that we are, and in that place to stand with and for the women of the world.

As you observe International Women’s Day, please hold a special place in your hear for women who will be gathering despite the grave danger of doing so, particularly the women in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan who are planning a march and the brave women celebrating in Iraq who tell us, “There will be no civil society without liberated women.”

With strength, with wisdom, with solidarity.

Happy International Women’s Day.

(Note: You can learn more about IWD and find comprehensive coverage of this year’s celebration on the Feminist Peace Network website.)

Lucinda Marshall is a feminist artist, writer and activist. She is the Founder of the Feminist Peace Network. Her work has been published in numerous publications in the US and abroad. She also blogs at WIMN Online and writes a monthly column for the Louisville Eccentric Observer. Read other articles by Lucinda, or visit Lucinda's website.

5 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Lloyd Rowsey said on March 5th, 2008 at 1:03pm #

    thank you, lucinda. there is also alice miller. and the astonishing website of just “alice” at


    To change names, I’ve liked Elizabeth (Holtzman) for Obama’s running mate for some time now.

  2. Lloyd Rowsey said on March 5th, 2008 at 9:18pm #

    Wow. I guess DV has a lot of feminist readers! (Sarcasm.)

  3. Lloyd Rowsey said on March 7th, 2008 at 7:47am #

    SHAME dissident voice readers. What is it? You don’t know the name Elizabeth Holtzman? Or Alice Miller? Or Alice Walker? Or you actually think women have it “made” in America due t o male concessions, much less elsewhere?

    If so, I say you’re just resentful. And if you don’t “get my drift,” here’s a few words I just finished reading from a recently published interview-autobiography:

    ” Question: “(Are you concerned about discrimination against women?)”

    “Fighting discrimination against women was tough; we even had to pass a law regulating morality, in a sense, The Family Law, stipulating a man’s obligation to share household chores, cooking, childcare, with his wife…We’ve made great progress in that area.

    The immense majority of young people entering the Universities was female. Because at the age of secondary school and pre-university, females are more studious and get better grades, in a word. And since they were admitted on the basis of their scholastic record…

    We send our doctors to many countries around the world. There are some countries where the local culture makes it hard for you to send a woman to provide medical services, but you’d call for young people to study medicine, males and females, and two out of three who applied would be women.

    Sometimes, for a field of study, you’d say, ‘Well, we have an urgent need for such-and-such,” and in those cases males would even be exempted from military service (to encourage them to attend school), but of every three admissions on the basis of transcripts, two would be women. We had to impose quotas – let’s say 45% men and 55% women, because the vast majority of those who met the criteria (for admission) would be women. That process, for those reasons, translates into a tremendous growth in the number of women in the technical labor force, so that today, 65 per cent of the country’s technical forces is female.

    ….Women have made their own way – they’re a force to be reckoned with. What we may need to have in the future is a Federation of Cuban Men!”

  4. Mike McNiven said on March 10th, 2008 at 1:20am #

    Ms. Marshall,

    Thank you, and Happy March 8th to you too! Women Rights are human rights!
    And they are being violated in Afghanistan and Iraq with the US taxpayers’ funds! No ERA abroad, no ERA at home!
    Even this 2008 selection is disgustingly sexist! In the name of campaigning, anything goes!

  5. Lloyd Rowsey said on March 18th, 2008 at 6:26am #

    Thank you Mike McNiven. Apparenty, you-me-Ms.Marshall-thetwo-alices-and-Elizabeth are the only persons reading DV that still consider sexism a major problem in this world. (And that’s only a guess regarding those persons other than you and me, with respect to DV’s readership.)

    GL Rowsey