Celebrated since the early 1900s, International Women’s Day celebrates the achievements of women around the world, while calling for greater equality – this year’s theme is “Make it Happen”, encouraging women to actively create change. Yet, when you set out to change the world – things don’t change overnight, or even in a few decades. There’s no straight line to progress. Women all over the world are still living lives of gross inequality, injustice and frequent violence.
This is why feminist activism still matters, why feminist writing is as important as it ever was, and why stories are so crucial to inspire women to overcome the obstacles they face. So to mark the day we asked feminists who’ve been making it happen in their given field for many years, to reflect on their work, tell us what keeps them going and what still needs to change.
Everyday, for 12 days, 12 women from around the world – from writers and publishers, to filmmakers and activists – look back on the long haul of social change and ask themselves: Why am I Still Here?
8 March 2015 – “Why are we still here?”
Wellington writer and commentator Anne Else on why feminist writing still matters in New Zealand.
9 March 2015 – “Feminist is not a dirty word”
Poet and playwright Sitawa Namwalie on the incremental fight against deep-rooted gender equality in Kenya.
10 March 2015 – “Is feminist publishing still necessary?”
Urvashi Butalia, founder of India’s Zubaan Books, reflects on the changing landscape of feminist publishing and its relevance today.
11 March 2015 – “Women disappear every day”
Writer and academic Martine Delvaux on the importance of feminist writing in countering the erasure of women in Canada.
12 March 2015 – “Women direct only 9% of feature films”
Film activist Marian Evans on the deficit of complex female protagonists in New Zealand’s film industry.
13 March 2015: – “A different kind of activism”
Trinidadian activist and artist Ellen O’Malley Camps on carnival theatre, working in a maximum security prison and fifty years of feminist activism.
14 March 2015 – “What have we really achieved”
Maori academic Ella Henry on indigenous women’s rights, and the need for women to re-politicise their personal lives.
15 March 2015 – “60% of women still oppressed”
Pakistan’s Zubeida Mustafa reflects on the need for two strands of women to unite in Pakistan’s women’s rights movement.
16 March 2015 – “Acting keeps despair at bay”
Jamaican environmental activist Diana McCaulay reflects on the long haul of social change, and why she keeps going after 24 years.
Academic and civil society activist Esi Sutherland-Addy on how the creative voices of women across generations strengthen her resolve not to stop.
18 March 2015 – “Women are still the second sex”
Firdous Azim, a member of women’s rights group Naripokkho, on the importance of feminist concepts in combatting gender segregation in Bangladesh today.
19 March 2015 – “Granddaughters of Africa”
UK publisher Margaret Busby on her groundbreaking anthology Daughters of Africa, the ups and downs of Black feminist publishing and why she has hope for the future.
More from the blog About Commonwealth Writers