In honour of International Women’s Day 2022.

From Pexels.

“The story of the human race begins with the female. Women carried the original human chromosome as she does to this day: her evolutionary adaptation ensured the survival of the species: her work of mothering provided the cerebral spur for human communication and social organisation.” – Rosalind Miles, The Women’s History of the World (1989), p. 19.

International Women’s Day is a good time to pause and reflect on the women who enrich our world.

This might include paying tribute to powerful leaders from our world history, such as Wu Zhao, Boudicca, Cleopatra, Queen Nanny, Queen Liliʻuokalani, Evita Peron, Queen Soraya Tarziand, and Indira Ghandi, who dealt with injustice, discrimination and inhumanity by showing their own individual forms of strength and determination.

It should also include acknowledging and honouring women who have been literal and/or figurative mother figures in that they have given birth to much of our world as we know it today: Lucy, Emmaline Pankhurst, Coccinelle, Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt, Marsha Johnston, and Coretta Scott King.

We could also honour women like Caroline Herschel, Marie Curie, Wangari Maathai, Hypatia, Ada Lovelace, Sally Ride, and Mary Shelley, and a score of others spanning Africa and Asia and elsewhere who have extended our scientific, intellectual and literary spheres.

Our tribute must include activists such as the Suffragettes, the Mothers of the Disappeared, the protesters of Grand Bassam, and Grandmothers for Refugees; and individuals including Halina Wagowska and Waris Dirie. We must highly esteem indigenous Australian, African, Asian and Pacific Islander women, and those across the Americas.

Let us also pay respects to current and future influencers in our world: Damilola Odufuwa and Odunayo Eweniyi, Malala Yousafzai, Greta Thunberg, Emma Watson, and Anjali Sharma.

Artist: Miriam English

Our list of female heroes must also pay particular tribute to the everyday women who will never individually make the list of rich or famous, but whose tireless work keeps the world going: those who comprise the majority of micro loan accounts and whose work fuels modern economic, family and social industry; those who are overlooked today in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, China and Tibet and Burma and Ukraine and Syria and North Korea, and in Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya.

Like the 13th (female) Doctor Who from popular culture, the women we admire span time and place; they inhabit varied diverse cultures and religions and philosophies… but I see their collective activism as comprising the purest and most unifying philosophy of all: recognition of our common humanity across the histories and geographies and societies that together create the entire human family.

Yes, International Women’s Day is a good time to pause and reflect on the women who enrich our world – but so is every day. Let’s stop the discrimination, the disempowerment, the direct and indirect (vicarious) violence, the cultural and religious and social and political bias that women experience every day. Let’s avoid the patronising and tokenistic pat on the head that one day per year may afford, and make every day International Women’s Day.

Let’s honour all the women listed above – and more: let’s esteem every woman for their daily courage and determination to #breakthebias and stereotypes and systemic disempowerment and entrenched sexism and misogyny. Let’s change the world for women, and, in doing so, we will make it a better place for us all.

©2022 Geoff Allshorn

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