Today is International Women’s Day. Truthfully, every day should be International Women’s Day. Roughly half of humanity are women and most live lives of imposed poverty, under brutal repression, or in the killing fields of war. The threats of sexual or economic exploitation persist and the violence of patriarchy, authoritarianism and empire continue to be the dominant form of governance the world over.
Many stodgy politicians have taken to the stage to express their “admiration” for women. I guess it was nice of them to take a moment away from bombing their villages to smithereens, or polluting their water supplies, or enacting new laws to legislate their bodies; but I digress. Today is not about them.
From indigenous women fighting the mining companies polluting the land in Peru and Ecuador, or trying to protect the water from fossil fuel industries in North Dakota or Alberta,
to Palestinian and Jewish women struggling arm in arm against apartheid and women of colour standing courageously against police brutality in the US.
From women who work 20 hour days for a pittance in sweatshops in Bangladesh to Indian women protesting sexual violence.
And all the women who must traverse dangerous passages to safety for them and their families in the midst of imperialistic war and its turmoil, from Yemen to Iraq to Syria to Somalia to Afghanistan.
This day is about them. And it is an opportunity to renew our commitment of solidarity with all women, but especially those who face immediate and unmerciful violence and oppression.
Women have been at the forefront protesting wars, colonialism and racism and demanding fairer economic realities. They have been and continue to be warriors for the biosphere. And they have done this with great risk, often inviting death threats, discrimination and injury. But without a doubt, there could be no social justice, peace or ecological protection without the perseverance of women against the most brutal of regimes and cruel of systems. We remember, honour, and reaffirm our shared struggle today and everyday.
Kenn Orphan 2017
Note: The featured image for this essay is a painting by the Indian artist Amrita Sher-Gil (30 January 1913– 5 December 1941) and is entitled Tribal Women.