March 8th is International Women’s Day and Gender Across Borders, ‘a global feminist blog’ is encouraging people to participate by answering two questions:
“What does ‘equal rights for all’ mean to you?”
“Describe a particular organization, person or moment in history that helped to mobilize a meaningful change in equal rights for all”
So here I go: Equal rights for all obviously means access to equal opportunities, rates of pay and benefits. It means equal freedom from oppression and violence, worldwide. But this blog is about ‘reading and writing’. In that context, I think that it means women should be able to write about strong female characters without being labelled as ‘feminist’ writers. I believe Margaret Atwood once said something to this effect, though I am unable to find the quotation to back it up. ‘Feminist’ has become a bad word to some, conjuring up images of angry, unshaven women chanting in the streets. This is unfortunate. But my point is, it should not seem noteworthy that a book has a woman in a leading role and it should not automatically be lumped into the category of ‘feminism’, just as strong male characters are not judged solely as representatives of their gender.
I am choosing both a person and a moment in history as a response to the second question, though I am straying from my literary theme. Rosa Parks is the best example I can think of, as someone who helped create a change in the fight for equal rights for all. Obviously, she is a well known figure in black history. But she was also a woman, and she stood up (or rather sat down) for her rights against a male bus driver in 1955, a time when both women and blacks faced great challenges.
There are obviously many female writers who have added their voice to the fight for women’s rights. For a short list of my picks of books to read for International Women’s Day, please go to my Examiner article here.
If you want to participate by blogging for International Women’s Day, go to the Gender Across Borders site. Reuters is also participating by having guests live blog here. If you just can’t get enough blogging, you can also go to the World Food Programme’s website where they are asking for people to support women worldwide in their fight against hunger.