With Mother’s Day last Sunday and International Women’s Day on Tuesday 8th March, this week it’s all about women.
International Women’s Day was originally established in 1911 to, as the Independent puts it: “mark women’s enormous contribution to humankind.” Giving birth to the entire human race might indeed be regarded as an enormous contribution, so they’re not wrong there. But why is a ‘women’s day’ necessary in the 21st Century?
In many places around the world – including the oh-so-enlightened West – women lag lamentably behind men in pay for performing the same job; a mere 55 of the world’s richest 500 people are female; and the closest encounter half the population ever have with a glass ceiling is to clean it. Meanwhile, in 2015, a woman spent five months in a Tehran jail for protesting against the ban on females watching sports in stadiums alongside men, women are routinely seen as the sexual property of men – whether or not they know them – and in too many places on the planet women have to cover themselves from head to toe just in case men can’t control themselves. This, and having to solicit the permission of a man even to avail themselves of a medical intervention on their own bodies, demonstrates just why a day of recognition – if not reckoning – is warranted. As for women’s status in Saudi Arabia, space prohibits us from even listing the injustices women endure there, so here’s a handy link.
And so, if it appears strange that 50% of the human species has to mark on the calendar a day to remind the other 50% of the human species that we are all actually homosapiens, sadly, there are very persuasive reasons for it.
This week there are an abundance of events taking place in countries across the globe to celebrate the social, cultural and economic achievements of women and highlight the pressing issues they continue to face. In the US the newly crowned Queen of Gender Equality, English actress Emma Watson (pictured below) will be one of the speakers at a rally to launch HeForShe Arts Week, a weeklong spotlight on women’s rights and gender equality. In India, SeekSherpa is hosting a series of events tied into International Women’s Day, including an all-girl pub crawl and a bus tour of hidden culinary hotspots in Delhi, whilst Taiwan’s Girls in Tech evening on March 8 celebrated entrepreneurial women of the web.
In London the weeklong WOW (Women of the World) Festival is taking place at the Southbank Centre, and will feature over 150 events, including talks, debates, live music, comedy, dance lessons, workshops and even a demonstration from the sword-wielding stars of Muslim Girls Fence.
In Evolution’s hometown of Brighton the Women’s Centre and Brighton Dome put together a special, action-packed day of entertainment, films, workshops, exhibitions and discussions on March 8th, including an exhibition by artist and Evolution Arts tutor Bern O’Donooghue. In Dead Reckoning, O’Donoghue presents a moving installation from her paper boat art project (see image below) bearing witness to the deaths in 2015 of an estimated 3,771 migrants and refugees who have attempted to cross the Mediterranean in their efforts to reach Europe.
Both Brighton Dome and Dukebox Theatre in Hove, are hosting a whole week of shows and workshops dedicated to celebrating womankind. Highlights include Sandi Toksvig’s live show, Politically Incorrect, local musician Hannah Brackenbury’s brilliant songs about pound shops, selfies, librarians, vodka and cats, and a night of seriously sassy sketches about all things female from The Fannytasticals.
Evolution Arts offers courses and workshops where women (and men!) have the chance to express and celebrate themselves through a range of artistic mediums including dance, theatre, drawing, music and photography.
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