Sunday, March 07, 2010

international women's day

One of the things I notice the most in my first year here in Canada is the way in which holidays are emphasized. For instance, I listen to the news on the radio every day, and here I listen to the CBC. This morning many of the weekend documentaries and reports were about women in honor of International Women's Day.

As a feminist in the USA, I knew about this holiday, but never knew anyone who did much about it. This year, according to their website, there are 125 events in the USA (population approximately 307 million people) and 58 events in Canada. (population something in the range of 33 million) Without boring you with the math, let's just say there seem to be many more events happening for International Women's Day in Canada than in the U.S.

Ways I'm connecting with this event? I like to celebrate the many opportunities for equality in political, environmental, social and economic expressions. On Thursday night, a new friend came by to pick up her eggs. There's a lady in the country outside of town who is raising few organic laying hens, and through a network of women's contacts, we are supporting her small micro enterprise through buying her eggs. The lady in the country sends the eggs to town to her daughter's house. My friend Christine picks up those eggs, and delivers some of them to me. That other friend comes by to pick up her eggs from my refrigerator, as she does not drive in winter. Small, personal, neighborhood exchanges, and $3.75 a dozen for some's buying locally and economically supporting women's farming on a small one to one, old fashioned scale.

Then, also on Thursday, we went out to hear some stand up comedy. In the US, I hadn't been into most of the stand up comedy; it tended to make fun of somebody or be mean or vulgar somehow. I found it often didn't make me laugh much. Canadian comedy is different--I watch it on TV, and I went to hear Punchlines for Peace. It's an Israeli-Palestinian comedy act, and it's smart, funny and has very good intentions. The premise? "If we can laugh together, we can live together." Thinking critically about international politics and being involved in the political process when possible? A great way to express women's equality. A century ago, not many women had the vote or the right to think and talk about political matters.

On Friday evening, I led a sing along here, complete with guitar and full audience participation. The event was part of Shabbat Across North America-- where congregations all over the US and Canada had Sabbath celebrations together. It was fun--and another expression of my chance to celebrate women's equality. A hundred years ago, just like in many other religions, Jewish women weren't singing and leading congregational life in any public way. Today there are women rabbis and cantors, and in many congregations, women have the chance to fully participate in an egalitarian setting. That's progress.

This morning, I read an article in the newspaper about the carpet trade in Afghanistan. Apparently this amazing traditional weaving skill is struggling, due to competition from other countries' less expensive imports. As I warp my loom again, I'm thinking of the women involved in this economic issue, as 80% of the weavers affected are women. I'm not in the market for an Afghani rug just now, but each warp string that I successfully measured out and sleyed through the heddles connects me to those women, whose skills are legendary.

The photos in this post prove that I finished measuring my warp, I've wound it (with the professor's help) onto the back beam, and I'm slowly threading those threads through the wire heddles of my loom. It's nothing compared to an Afghan rug, but for me, it shows great progress!

There's still a lot more to do, obviously, to support women's health issues, rights, and well-being in the world. I think one easy step to take for International Women's Day is to think about how we, as individuals, advocate for equality and also to celebrate our rights together.

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Blogger Wollgut said...

Happy International Women's Day!!! It was a big deal in communist countries behind the iron curtain, and I've been in favor of celebrating Women's Day even after the curtain fell. Thanks to the greeting card and flower industries, Mother's Day seems to be replacing International Women's Day quickly. My mom and I stil prefer IWD; after all, it honors *all* women, regardless of whether they are mothers or not.

You wrote a great post; thoughtful, as always. I'll check out the Punchlines for Peace act; this sounds very interesting. Have a great week!

March 8, 2010 at 6:38 AM  

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