With its roots in radical politics and the struggle against sexual discrimination, International Women’s Day (8 March) recognises and celebrates women’s achievements – cultural, economic, political, and social – across the globe.
An annual event since 1911, it also serves to remind us that ‘continued vigilance and action [is] required to ensure that women’s equality is gained and maintained in all aspects of life’, as the IWD website observes.
In accordance with this vision, International PEN, a charity promoting literature as a means of encouraging cross-cultural dialogue, is highlighting the plight of several Latin American women writers who appear to have been punished for airing left-wing political views or speaking out about controversial issues such as paedophilia.
The Colombian playwright Patricia Ariza, whose work is informed by her socio-political activism, has resolved to hold firm to her beliefs, whatever tactics her persecutors may adopt. ‘They cannot take away my right to have an opinion and be creative’, she asserts.
In the face of adversity, Ariza attests to the power of the imagination; like many other women writers worldwide, she harnesses that power in order to protest against injustice. Similarly, a number of the UK events marking International Women’s Day will celebrate womanhood by getting participants’ creative juices flowing.
The wisewords festival (4-28 March, East London) aims to celebrate a diverse range of women’s writing. Among the activities on offer is a comedy writing workshop, discussion with a literary agent, and an ‘open mic’ poetry reading.
Various Welsh women’s groups are supporting ‘Wicked Words and Witty Women’ (11 March, Cardiff), which promises to ‘unleash creativity’. The event encompasses a series of activities for literature lovers, including conversation with publishers, readings, and writing workshops.
Women Writers Unite: Women and Animals (12 March, Glasgow) provides both established writers and budding talents from Glasgow University’s creative writing course with the opportunity to share their works on the evening’s theme.
Liverpool’s International Women’s Day Poetry Event (15 March) encourages women to share their verse in front of a lively audience.
Dancer Rosina Bonsu and storyteller Jean Edmiston bring African folktale to life at Once Upon a Dancing Tale (20 March, Glasgow).
Over to you
This year, International Women’s Day inspired the former editor of Publisher’s Weekly, Sara Nelson, to list her most empowering reads.
If discussion of International Women’s Day has encouraged you to make your voice heard, ‘gender-related, relevant and useful’ articles are welcomed by the IWD website.
If anyone has been involved in any of the IWD related events, we’d love to hear about it!