IWD 2021 -We've Come a Long Way But Have a Long Way to Go
Happy International Women’s Day!
I have bittersweet feelings today. I want to celebrate all the amazing women and girls in my life, including my mother, my grandmother, my sister, my aunts, my daughter, my teachers, friends, and more, each of whom have made their mark fighting an uphill battle and bringing us this far. But if I’m honest, today I struggle under the weight of all the work that still lies ahead of us.
Just today my alma mater, the University of Peshawar, made it compulsory for women to wear Shalwar Qameez (a loose fitted outfit). I personally love Shalwar Qameez and have nothing against it, but what bothers me is the fact that women are once more being dictated to about what they may or may not wear. Worse, rather than standing for women’s independence and autonomy, men are celebrating this backwards decision.
Likewise, I am appalled that Switzerland has voted to ban all sorts of face coverings for religious reasons. The media is calling it a Burka Ban. While I don’t cover my face for religious reasons, many women even in my own family have and do. Once again, why are a group of people, in this case parliament, deciding what a woman may or may not wear? It is ironic that Switzerland made this decision in the middle of a pandemic. A pandemic that requires mandatory face coverings. It seems some politicians will never learn basic common sense.
Third, I am beyond angry about the sexual harassment stories around New York Governor Cuomo. It appears the #MeToo movement didn’t teach these men anything. Even after countless discussions on sexual abuse, and increased measures to combat this disease, men in power find a way to sexually harass women.
Finally, Duchess Megan Markle’s interview with Oprah Winfrey opened another Pandora’s box. It is sickening how the British Royal Family and the British Media treated her and still treat her. Her experience is that even women, particularly BIPOC women, in powerful positions face incredible obstacles built on racism and misogyny.
And as if the above were not disheartening enough, the ongoing atrocities of Uighyr women suffering in concentration camps in China is beyond heart-wrenching. The world is watching this genocide unfold before us, and not doing enough.
I’m reminded, however, that courageous women before us built through untold difficulty, and their example should inspire us. It may yet be a long time before we are able to fully claim our space, but that doesn’t mean we should give up or slow down. Let’s continue to fight and claim our rights, our dignity, and our humanity. While it is a somber International Women’s Day today, we stay hopeful and fight for a better tomorrow.