Yesterday, The Bahamas commemorated International Women’s Day with several celebrations, one of which was a forum held for women by the Bureau of Women’s Affairs. Following passionate speeches by some distinguished Bahamian women, the floor was opened for discussions. A well-known Bahamian artist took to the floor and said something that has been on my mind since then. She said, “ I don’t feel much like celebrating, when 1 in 4 women is physically abused, and 1 in 3 women are sexually assaulted.”
Her comments were very true, and incredibly sad. In 2014 the acts of violence against women still remain to numerous to count. We still have amendments that need to be made to our constitution just so that we can be recognized by the law as equal to men. There is definitely work to be done and we must be the generation to do it. With said, I cannot agree fully with that young artist. No matter our present challenges, our future is greater than our past and for this we must celebrate women.
In celebrating women we must share their stories. Through these stories we unconsciously motivate other women to keep pushing in spite of the things they face. In celebrating women, in sharing the fruits of resilience, tenacity and determination hopefully we can change the patriarchal mindsets, insecurity, and communication problems that have lead to violence against women. Where women have been allowed equality, access to education, health and finance; where women have been allowed to thrive, to give, and live well; all people both men and women have flourished, and that is what we need to celebrate.
“In celebrating women we must share their stories. Through these stories we unconsciously motivate other women to keep pushing in spite of the things they face.”
Women of my generation have grown up in a very liberal world. We can wear shorts pants, short skirts, revealing tops and comb our hair anyway we’d like. Fashion is important because female fashion directly correlates to the advancement and freedom of women. A look at the clothing of generations past reveals how fashion has evolved along side with the suffrage and feminist movements. We can choose to wear jeans or dainty dress whenever we please, and for that we must celebrate.
Women of my generation can go to school at all levels. In fact there are scholarships designed specifically to attract them. They can study engineering, and physics, become doctors, professors, chefs and bloggers. They can give speeches to male audiences and they can climb the political ladder. Yes they still receive less pay for the same work as their male counterparts. Yes, they still face greater challenges in being hired because they are women. And yes, these are all things that my generation must continue to fight against, but the choice to remain at home or to go to work is ours, and for that we must celebrate
Women of my generation have access to birth control in a variety of forms. Few people recognize how birth control has revolutionized the world. But it is that little pill given to women that has enabled us to pursue higher education, build careers and travel the world. Through birth control and science we have more control over our own lives than ever before, and for that we must celebrate.
As my generation celebrates women and all the freedoms we currently possess. We cannot forget those on whose shoulders we stand. I wonder how many of us recognize the sacrifice it took for our mothers and grandmothers to get us to this point? Do we realize that generations and generations ago, our hopes and dreams could never be imagined because there were things that women just couldn’t do. Now that we can do it, we must continue to break barriers and push beyond our current limitations, limitations we often impose on ourselves, by not supporting and celebrating one another.
The wonderful part about celebrating women, is that we get to share our stories with each other. In our triumphs and in our tragedies we learn how to grow. In our tragedies and in our triumphs we recognize that there is still so much left to be done. Today I want to implore you to do the very best you can in whatever it is your hands find to do, and to bring someone along with you. If each of us could empower another woman to do and be her best, while offering the support she needs for that to happen, imagine how we could change the world. Remember that equality for women, is progress for all. Let’s make it happen addressing the challenges we face head on, but never ever forgetting to celebrate how far we have come.
Happy International Women’s Day