Celebrating International Women’s Day 2020

By Sarah Pervez

It’s that time of the year again! When workplaces request all employees to wear pink, all donut shops sell donuts with pink frosting and at least one boomer attempts a joke “what is the point of celebrating women for one day!?”

Yes, 8th March is the day we celebrate women, officially, internationally. But what more can you do besides deck yourself up in pink? We’ve compiled a way to go beyond and really celebrate the spirit this International Women’s Day!

The theme for this year’s IWD is “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s rights” and boy do we want to realize them! It’s high time we all support the Sisterhood. Let’s begin.

  • Acknowledge the women who inspire you:

You don’t even have to look hard for them. Just take a good look at the women surrounding you who, day in day out are leading their lives with dignity, hard work and a smile on their faces. They go above and beyond their call of duty every day. Your mothers and friends, sisters and cousins, aunts and grandmothers, your house help and salon ladies. Who have raised you and risen with you.

Then there are the women who are making headlines and creating waves. They are out there dreaming their dreams and striving hard to achieve them. The athletes and the doctors, the singers and the policymakers, the activists and the poets, the writers and mountaineers, the mathletes and filmmakers. Acknowledge their work, appreciate their daily grind, get inspired by their perseverance and their chutzpah. Emulate it.

  • Supporting women and women entrepreneurs:

There are many wonderful women doing powerful things and we can all find ways to support them. This Women’s Day visit an art gallery displaying a female artist’s work, splurge on a treat by a female home baker, support a local business or simply give a shout out to some women entrepreneurs on your social media without being asked for a PR campaign. Look up the wonderful entrepreneurial women in your area who are working hard at bringing you unique products and ideas when you want to buy a gift. Supporting these small businesses will give a boost to the local economy as well as bringing more women into the workforce resulting in gender diversity and gender balance.

Also, build each other up, show your support not just by lip service but by actually listening and respecting the diverse opinions of all the women in your lives and encourage them to talk. For a Sisterhood to thrive, we need to create that safe space around us where all of us feel heard and respected.

  • Mentorship:

If you’re a woman in a high managerial position, consider undertaking a young intern or trainee at work under your wing and mentoring them. Be a force of change, start a chain of women supporting women at workplaces, introduce them to networking events, teach them the ropes and make way for women representation.

On the other hand, if you are the mentee in the mentor-mentee relationship, consider treating your mentor to coffee or a lunch date to thank them for all they have done for you as you can’t always be the taker in that relationship.

If there is someone else you admire, consider reaching out to them and having a conversation with a person you look up to. Inspire and be inspired.

  • Know your rights!

The constitution of Pakistan gives the following BASIC rights to every citizen regardless of their gender:

  • Right to Life – to live your life as you want, to walk on the road without any harm etc.
  • Right to education – every child has the right to be educated, to go to school; it is said so by the constitution and by the UN charter.
  • Right to marriage – choice of it, walking out on an abusive one, refusing a forced one if you’re a minor.
  • Property law introduced in 2019 that gives women rights to inheritance and property in written law.
  • Right to 6 months of paid maternity leave and 3 months paid paternity leave – I love this one! This bill has just been passed. Make sure you and your workplaces are enforcing this one for your employees.

At the end of the day, for civil society to flourish, each one of us have the responsibility to make ourselves aware of the rights we and our fellow citizens have. To ask for them, to ensure we implement them and to not step on anyone else’s rights.

This women’s day, pledge to educate each other by reading up on these and not let people or culture dictate them.

  • Raise awareness of rights and plights:

Attend a march or a protest or an event being held for International Women’s day. Show up, sometimes that is also enough. But more than that, IWD for this year is all about EachforEqual. We all have a voice, we just need to use it to fight bias, challenge stereotypes, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements. Write to your senators, your MPs and your policymakers and pressurise them to make laws against domestic abuse, violence against women, the inhumane act of Kari, against sale of acids etc. Petition against these injustices. Use your voice for equal opportunities and rights. Because an equal world is an enabled world.

  • Know your role models

I know it might seem like I’m giving you homework but there are ways to make it fun. Get together with your girlfriends and do a trivia night on the most famous women civil rights activists, writers, doctors, philanthropists etc. Be inspired by their tenacity, their grit and determination in overcoming all sorts of odds and fighting for their rights till the end. Remember them at every obstacle that comes your way.

End the game with a bag of treats for the winner!

  • Get together with your girlfriends and watch a feminist TV show or movie:

We are always on the lookout for reasons to hang out with our bffs. Some days you don’t even need a reason. But this women’s day, give a nod to all those women directors, actors, producers and storytellers, who are working hard to make women stories mainstream. Who are struggling to get relevant content out there and to make sure our voices are heard. Order in some pizza and watch to your heart’s content.

P.S I’ll be watching “Motorcycle Girl”.

  • Read about the great women in history:

There are countless women who have made history by the virtue of their perseverance and their ability to challenge the status quo. They were smart, had convictions and a whole lot of courage. Unfortunately, history has forgotten many of them or side-lined them.

This women’s day read up on women who made a difference not only in their own lives but in a lot of others too and the ones who are continuing to do so. Who stand up to inequality and injustice. They have paved the way for generations to come. To name a few, Fatima Jinnah who was right there by the side of Quaid for the entirety of the struggle of independence, Dr. Ruth Pfao, Bilquis Edhi, Asma Jahangir, Masarrat Misbah, Malala Yousafzai, Ayesha Farooq, Michelle Obama, Maya Angelou and many others. Women’s own has covered a comprehensive list of high achieving women of the decade in their January issue to inspire you. This women’s day read about them or read an autobiography and celebrate them, volunteer at their NGO, give a donation, appreciate them.

  • Do a Hygiene Drive:

Make hygiene packs for your house help, their daughters, sisters, daughters in law and distribute them amongst people living in unfortunate conditions, like the slums near your home or even women prisons. It can be as simple as a cloth bag containing 5 products to 50. All up to you. Pack in a packet of sanitary napkins, 2 pieces of undies, an anti-perspirant, soap, hand sanitizer, toothbrush and toothpaste. If you want you can also put in things like a shampoo, towel, scarf, face wash, body spray, face cream, body lotion etc. Sky’s the limit. But I would recommend getting a basic one which you can continue giving every month and make it sustainable. This Women’s Day, help raise awareness on personal hygiene for these women who do not have the luxury of thinking about themselves.

  • Spend time alone:

If you’re too tired from being the awesome woman that you are, then this International Women’s Day, simply stay in and bask in the awesomeness that is you! Go all out, book a home pampering session, order in your favourite food, curl up with a good book (by a female author please), have a cup of hot tea or coffee and your favourite chocolates or biscuits, whatever floats your boat and simply savour your own company.

Happy International Women’s Day 2020!!

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