Women’s push for equality must begin locally on campus

Sunday, March 8 was Daylight Savings Time, which meant the day consisted of only 23 hours instead of the usual 24. This also meant that many women only had 23 hours to celebrate International Women’s Day. But the celebration occurred all over the globe.

According to the United Nations website for the holiday, International Women’s Day is dedicated as “a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political. It is an occasion for looking back on past struggles and accomplishments, and more importantly, for looking ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women.”

Women around the world held many celebrations and demonstrations to observe the holiday. In Sao Paulo, Brazil activists marched in favor of legalizing abortion and women in Bogota, Colombia marched with signs reading “we are going to change history.” Unfortunately, we didn’t see any International Women’s Day rallies in Madison and in both of the previous women-led movements, there was a striking disproportion of women to men.

While protests and celebrations were popular around the world, the U.S. joined in with the event through social media. Many women tweeted and instagramed popular quotes such as “behind every successful woman is herself” and “here’s to strong women; may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.” Another popular statement made was “here’s to the women who build each other up and encourage each other to be themselves.” Again, many men also made their voices heard over social media, but the vast majority appeared to be from women.

In light of the holiday, the Clinton Foundation released a new data analysis saying we (the human race) are not there yet on gender equality. The foundation released a video Sunday, featuring actresses such as Cameron Diaz and Amy Poehler, to explain what the movement is all about. To help women and girls everywhere move forward people were told to visit the website Not-There.org to explore the data. The “Not There” campaign is part of the Clinton Foundation’s “No Ceilings” initiative, which aims to improve the rights and equality of women around the world.

On the website it was revealed that in honor of International Women’s Day, the world woke up to find that women were not present in publications and advertisements. Top brands and magazines yanked women from their advertisements and cover images to promote gender equality. Companies like Dove and magazines such as Vogue replaced women in their images with a blank space and the web address Not-There.org.

While the campaigns, protests and even the holiday itself promote women’s rights and equality along with other great things having to do with women, it begs the question: Why do we even have to dedicate a day to women’s achievement? Why is only one day out of 365 days of the year designated to encourage the advancement and recognition of women? And why is it that only women are pictured celebrating and promoting this event? Are men not encouraged to celebrate women or are they choosing to abstain from activism?

Women and men around the world are empowered to change society, yet little change has been made. Of course, there is an understanding that changes in societal trends don’t happen overnight. And a one day campaign focusing on how women matter isn’t going to make people realize women matter.

I am not asking for worldwide participation in the campaign, but instead UW-Madison-centered participation. You don’t have to join the movement or even visit the website. To begin our own campaign we must appreciate each other’s achievements and encourage each other to make change happen.

Lilly is a freshman writer for The Daily Cardinal. What’s your take on International Women’s Day? Do you agree or disagree with Lilly? Please send all feedback to opinion@dailycardinal.com.

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