Today is International Women’s Day. The holiday is a major event in many countries around the world. It was first marked in the U.S. in 1909 in conjunction with the labor movement. As women landed more factory jobs, they also demanded more social, political, and economic rights.
Over the century, many have discussed what makes women’s issues distinct from any other issue. Since 1995’s United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, feminist discourse has largely focused on pay parity, reproductive rights, and equal opportunity. Indeed, women are often the most marginalized in many societies. But many also argue that women’s needs are more complex and culture-specific than the UN would let on. Audre Lorde, the noted Black womanist civil rights activist, was famously quoted that “there is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.”
We’re going to discuss International Women’s Day and women’s issues with two activists. Mrinalini Chakraborty is the head of field operations and strategy for the Women’s March. She discusses women’s political engagement, and the concept of leveraging gender equity through democratic means. Rafia Zakaria a political philosopher and columnist for DAWN Pakistan. She joins us to discuss why international models for women-oriented development often fall flat. Her op-ed in The New York Times is “The Myth of Women’s ‘Empowerment.’”