Every year on March 8th, the world comes together to celebrate International Women’s Day. We want to encourage you celebrate with us this year with the wonderful women in your life, both on this special occasion as well as everyday!
Traditions from Eastern Europe
In 2009, March 8th became one of my favorite days. In the US, we celebrate Mother’s Day in May, but since I was not a mother, the holiday was not for me. Around the world, the women’s day celebration is not limited to mothers, but all women. In the post-Soviet and Eastern European countries that my family has lived in, the holiday tradition is to give women flowers. (Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Latvia)
Every year on March 8th, all of my students would march into school holding bouquet after bouquet of gorgeous flowers for us. Truly it made you feel like a queen for the day. Male colleagues as well as men on the street would stop you to give you a small flower, a gift, or just a congratulations for being a woman. While living in Latvia, our bordering country of Lithuania, even the police join in the festivities by stopping women drivers on the streets to hand out flowers.
Traditions from West Africa
If you have never heard of International Women’s Day, you are not alone. I had never experienced or heard of this holiday while living in the States. While living in West Africa in the country of Mauritania, Women’s Day is celebrated by having a Sabar.
Relatively unknown in the West, the Wolof and Serer cultures of the Senegambia region use the powerful and symbolic djembe drums to hold a Sabar for International Women’s Day as well as other events. The drummers use djembe drums carved from Senegal’s national symbol, the baobab tree. The baobab tree is also where the Senegalese bury their “griots” who are the singers/drummers at celebrations like the Sabar. This amazing drumming and dancing event is a wonderful and unique tradition for women to let loose and have fun. The vibrant dresses, the rhythmic drumming, as well as the amazing food is something unforgettable for both my daughter and myself. Friends young and old held hands danced the night away.
Women Inspiring Change
Fatima Al-Fihri is crowned with the distinction of having established the world’s very first university in Morocco. In Washington D.C., American University has the first law school founded by women. Their slogan states “we have founding mothers, not founding fathers.”. Also in D.C., the National Museum of Women in the Arts is the only major museum in the world solely dedicated to recognizing women’s creative contributions. However, in most major cities around the U.S., there are wonderful museums and monuments celebrating the amazing contributions of women.
As fun as International Women’s Day is to celebrate, it should not begin and end on March 8th. This year, the theme for International Women’s Day is ‘Be Bold for Change’. The IWD organization is challenging both men and women to call on the masses or call on yourself to help forge a better working world – a more inclusive, gender equal world. Ways you can do this are to:
Learn about gender-focused groups and networks
Enjoy women’s creativity
Read gender related articles
View International Women’s Day videos
Join people around the world and #PledgeForParity
Most importantly, reading books, articles, and current events will keep you well informed. For a great list to get you started, click HERE.
For events around the world this March and beyond, click HERE.