A Purple and Black greetings on IWD 2021!
I am sending you a warm purple greeting on this 2021 International Women’s Day! Why do I not a color “blue” greeting, which is the stereotyped color for peace? I send a purple greeting today because the women claimed it as symbolic for women’s cause. Alice Walker has honored this color in her classic novel, The Color Purple, to show graphically the effect of patriarchy, kyriarchy, androcentrism, sexism, and misogyny over women.
The International Women’s Day emerged from women’s experiences of oppression and suffering. The first group of women that brought this into the public sphere was those in the labor sector. In 1908, more than 15,000 women marched through the streets of New York City to demand for shorter working hours, better pay, and the right to vote. Then in 1909, the Socialist Part of America declared the first National Woman’s Day. On the following year, a conference attended by 100 women from 17 countries unanimously endorsed the suggestion of Clara Zetkin, a German Marxist, to create an international day for women. By 1911, the women in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland celebrated International Women’s Day. Beginning on the last week of February and heightened on March 8, 1917, the women staged a strike called “bread and peace” in Petrograd (St. Petersburg), Russia to protest the food shortages, poor living conditions, and World War I. In 1921, March 8 became the official date for the International Women’s Day. It took some decades for the United Nations to recognize the women’s efforts. Finally, in 1977, the UN declared March 8 as Women’s Day.
I also send a “black” greeting on this IWD! It is because the issues that the women were fighting against in 1908 are still very much around in 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic has even made it more glaring. Women and children experience more sexual and other forms of violence during the lockdowns. Patriarchy, kyriarchy, androcentrism, sexism, and misogyny are still very much alive. In Myanmar, the coup d’etat is a kyriarchal scheme. In the Philippines, aside from the greed for power-over, misogyny is rife in the discourse of the highest official. In Asia, women are rising. The ones in the frontlines of the struggle for their human rights, including economic rights, food, and health security are vulnerable to abuses by men in power. The powers-that-be responded through red-tagging, arresting, assaulting, and killing them.
When men subject the women to violence, they defile the image of God. Yet, in doing so, the men actually destroy also the imago dei in them. Today, I choose to challenge the men to work for their redemption from the patriarchal social construction of what and who they are. I also choose to challenge women to stand and fight for their rights and work for justice. Patriarchy, kyriarchy, androcentrism, sexism, and misogyny should stop. Women and men must forge partnership in building peace communities.
The blessings of Lady Wisdom, God Sophia be with you!
Muriel Orevillo-Montenegro, Ph.D.