International Women’s Day

8 March 2017
The Curious Element International Women's Day All About Women Satellite

International Women’s Day (IWD) is a chance to celebrate you and the women in your life and reflect on what you can do to help support women’s rights. I asked 10 women to answer 5 questions about IWD and women in general. These are their answers.

  Nicole – ACT, Australia

Who is a woman you wish more people would know about and why?
My friend Heleen’s Grandma, Anneke Groot-Bosse – aka Super Grandma – who goes to the local pool every week and does a backflip off the diving board. (Skip to 6 minutes in this local news story to see her skydiving.)

Why do you think it’s important to celebrate International Women’s Day?
International Women’s Day is important to unite women together in celebration of our accomplishments, to remind us how far we have come with women’s rights and equality, and to give us an opportunity to reflect on how far we can still go.

What do you hope the world will be like for future generations of women?
I hope that we will be kinder to each other and to ourselves.

What’s a book you think every woman should read?
The Monkey’s Mask by Dorothy Porter.

What is something you would like the woman reading this to know?
Make your finest asset your brain.

  Eleanor – VIC, Australia

I’m a new resident of Melbourne, having lived in Sydney, Canberra, and the Blue Mountains for varying lengths of time. Studying food sustainability and continuing to remain an idealist as much as possible.

Who is a woman you wish more people would know about and why?
America Ferrera is doing some amazing things as a civil rights activist. Some people would recognise her as the lead in Ugly Betty, but I think she deserves more attention for helping sustain momentum in the resistance against Trump era politics. I also just watched Taryn Brumfitt’s documentary Embrace – essential viewing.

Why do you think it’s important to celebrate International Women’s Day?
To keep up the momentum in progressing women’s rights.

What do you hope the world will be like for future generations of women?
Universal respect of women is the norm.

What’s a book you think every woman should read?
Sticking with an absolute classic in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. While an extremely narrow view of the world, I love that she wrote about times and places she knew and didn’t try to speak for other sectors of society that she didn’t belong to. There are some great messages about equality and self reflection. I’d love to read Yassmin’s Story by Yassmin Abdel Magied soon too.

What is something you would like the woman reading this to know?
If you haven’t heard about intersectional feminism, look it up!

  Melita – ACT, Australia

Melita Caulfield is a psychology student with a particular interest in mindful self-compassion, shame resilience, vulnerability, connection, and sincerity. She is also a photographer, writer and avid reader. Follow her work at The Introspective Mind.

Who is a woman you wish more people would know about and why?
Brené Brown, because of her game-changing work on shame-resilience, vulnerability, self-acceptance, and creating a supporting community.

Why do you think it’s important to celebrate International Women’s Day?
To me, IWD is a chance to celebrate female achievements and also to highlight persistent inequalities.

What do you hope the world will be like for future generations of women?
Building on the work of those who went before us, I truly want a world where women enjoy the same autonomy and inherent value as men.

What’s a book you think every woman should read?
I Thought it Was Just Me – But It Isn’t.

What is something you would like the woman reading this to know?
Shame affects everyone, though we often believe we are alone in this experience. Learning about what makes us feel ashamed and isolated is a good starting point for building shame-resilience and strengthening our connection to others. Strong relationships influence strong communities which can affect worthwhile change.

  Catherine – VIC, Australia

Who is a woman you wish more people would know about any why?
I don’t think there is one woman whose story is more important than other woman’s stories. I think we all have our own struggles and our own reasons to be proud of ourselves.

Why do you think it’s important to celebrate International Women’s Day?
It’s important to recognise how far we’ve come as a society. It’s also a good reminder that change in society views is possible.

What do you hope the world will be like for future generations of women?
I hope that everyone will feel like they are important and that they belong. I hope the value of everyone’s life is the same regardless of their situation.

I hope that we will not need to be ‘feminist’ anymore because it is not necessary. As Maisie Williams said, “We should stop calling feminist ‘feminist’ and just start calling people who aren’t ‘sexist’.”

What’s a book you think every woman should read?
The Harry Potter series. Even though the main character is male, there are a lot of varied and strong female characters.

What is something you would like the woman reading this to know?
I think it’s important that women work together and support each other. I think there is too much competition between women. I also think it’s important to remember that there are many different types of women with different values and different ways of doing things and that’s okay. As a society, we seem very quick to criticise each other.

I also think we need to make sure to keep in mind that all humans deserve the same basic rights. This includes LGBTI people, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, people with a disability, etc. I think it’s important to recognise their cause as well.

  Tammy – ACT, Australia

Who is a woman you wish more people would know about any why?
Louisa May Alcott. Alcott’s writing is as relevant to adults as children. She is full of wisdom for how a woman can live with dignity and purpose. I’ve always found her writing to impart a perfect blend of practicality and sentiment.

Why do you think it’s important to celebrate International Women’s Day?
Perhaps it isn’t politically correct, but I quite like some of the age-old differences between men and women, and I think it’s important to celebrate those differences as well as to unpin them from the sexes, which for me is what gender equality is all about. When balanced well, these differences can create a perfect harmony. So I like the idea that International Women’s Day is a chance to celebrate those things traditionally (but no longer exclusively) associated with being a woman.

What do you hope the world will be like for future generations of women?
Disregarding obvious biological differences, I hope women will have exactly the same opportunities as men and that they will have the same yardsticks applied to them in their pursuit of those opportunities.

What’s a book you think every woman should read?
I’m not sure that I can pick a book I would recommend for women specifically. Everything I could recommend would be good reading for both men and women.

But if you’re a woman and not ready to sacrifice the very real joys of “keeping home” on the altar of modern living, one book that has dramatically helped me recently (and which presumably is marketed at women more so than men), has been Rhonda Hetzel’s The Simple Home. Women today shouldn’t feel obligated to live like they did in the 1950s, but if you’re proud and happy to keep flying the flag of domesticity, Rhonda Hetzel has some great advice.

What is something you would like the woman reading this to know?
It is possible to be single and frighteningly happy, not just between relationships but long-term. Should I get the smelling salts now?

  Donna – NSW, Australia

I am a 53-year-old menopausal daughter, grand daughter, niece, cousin, friend, sister, employee, wife, mother, employer, and grandmother. My achievements are possible because I have worked hard. I don’t have a sense of entitlement because I am any of the things above or because I am a woman. My hourglass has more sand in the bottom than the top and, since I am not sure when it will run out, I live my life to the fullest. I prefer to regret having a go rather than regret not even trying.

Who is a woman you wish more people would know about and why?
I don’t have anyone in mind, but if there is a woman out there who is close to a cure for hot flushes, then I would like her to be a household name for my generation and the generations behind me.

Why do you think it’s important to celebrate International Women’s Day?
I don’t celebrate IWD, it isn’t important to me. Maybe because I don’t agree with the segregation of the sexes. Women who celebrate IWD would never be happy with an International Men’s Day – that would be sexist. I think it is double standards.

What do you hope the world will be like for future generations of women?
I hope that women stop feeling inferior and blaming men for that feeling. Mothers need to break the cycle and teach their daughters that they can do ANYTHING, and mean it. Mostly I hope that they wont have to endure Menopause (hot flushes).

What’s a book you think every woman should read?
I am not a reader, so I don’t have an answer for this one. Read what makes you happy.

What is something you would like the woman reading this to know?
Your opinion is important, even if it isn’t the same as everyone else’s. Being a woman is a wonderful thing, but don’t exploit it. Be the best person that you can be and you will live a happy life.

  Sara & Kerstin – ACT, Australia

Sara: Early 30s, single woman currently working in a Post Grad Scholar Position at the AIS in the Physical Therapies department and studying Sports Physio Masters. Trained and competed in Taekwondo. Holds a 4th Dan Black Belt in Taekwondo. Represented in sparring at national and international level.  I love challenging myself and pushing the boundaries to see what adventures I might take next!

Kerstin: Works as a design consultant, entrepreneur with a passion for gamification and changing the world! Also a Black Belt in 3 martial arts, represented Australia in Taekwondo, currently studying my PhD, and loving my partner and two mini Schnazuers!

Why do you think it is important to celebrate International Women’s Day?
It is a good time to reflect on how far we have come in gender equality but also how much more is still to be achieved.

To increase acknowledgement of how strong and important women’s presence is in the community, and to remind us to support each other.

What do you hope the world will be like for future generations of women?
Acknowledge that there is always going to be a gender difference as we are psychologically and physiologically different to men BUT when looking at/working on personal growth, hoping that the focus is more on the individual as opposed to it being biased by gender or cultural differences.

What’s a book that you think every woman should read?
Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Committed, which discusses individual growth as a woman, the role of marriage in today’s society and the traditional and modern stigma’s attached to it, and how marriage has evolved and helps educate women to make the decision to marry in an informed way.

What is something you would like the woman reading this to know?
Kerstin: “You got this!”

Sara: “It is okay to fail, take chances.” Part of this stems from a quote that I love: “What would you try to achieve if you could not fail?”

  Jenna

This is Jenna from Happy Mom Happy Toddler. I am a mom who yearns to have a happier life for myself, my family, and son amidst the responsibilities of a traditional Asian woman. I share tips to have easy and fun toddler activities and ways to de-stress for moms. If you are curious about how I can remain “sane” having a full-time job while still playing fun stuff with my boy, do check out my website here.

Who is a woman you wish more people would know about and why?
Malala Yousafzai. Though she is just 19, I personally feel that she is a woman in a girl’s body. Malala is a humanitarian advocating for female education and also the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner. I admire her fearless spirit fighting for girls’ education rights, even when she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman at the age of 17. Her extraordinary courage shall be exampled.

Why do you think it’s important to celebrate International Women’s Day?
Because all women should be respected and appreciated regardless their skin color, social status, and cultural background. Nobody can belittle a woman.

What do you hope the world will be like for future generations of women?
I hope the world will not stereotype women for what they can do and should do, apart from the physical limitations. Women in the future generations should be encouraged to bring out the best in them for a better, equal world.

What’s a book you think every woman should read?
The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. It is an awesome book talking about the importance of ‘Law of Attraction”. Women can wish for positive things to happen in their lives, even in the midst of hardships. Expect your life to be changed, if you want it to be changed.

What is something you would like the woman reading this to know?
You are capable to chase your dreams, believe that and be proud of yourself; do not let others defeat your self-worth easily.

  Jacqueline – ACT, Australia

I am the Founder & Editor of The Curious Element, this website! I created The Curious Element with the intention of bringing people together with common interests in Arts & Culture. This post is a great example of how there can be incredibly varied perspectives on the one topic. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading all of the different thoughts and have a list of books to read and things to check out. I will end it with my answers to the same questions.

Who is a woman you wish more people would know about and why?
Anna Funder. She wrote a book called Stasiland in 2003 which made me fall in love with narrative journalism. It is a fantastic book, you should absolutely read it. She is also a Human’s Rights activist and often speaks out about the issues. She is calling out our Government on the atrocity that is Manus Island.

Why do you think it’s important to celebrate International Women’s Day?
IWD isn’t about pushing an agenda or separating women from men by giving women their own day. It serves as a reminder to think about the women in your life and the issues they face – sexism, varying degrees of abuse, inequality, etc. – and what we can do to address them. If women were already treated equally and with respect, there wouldn’t be a need for IWD.

What do you hope the world will be like for future generations of women?
A place where every woman can feel safe to be alone, no matter the time of day.

What’s a book you think every woman should read?
Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood. If there’s any fictional character that will inspire you to take on the world and kick ass, it’s Phryne Fisher.

What is something you would like the woman reading this to know?
Use your voice. There are many people who will try to quiet a woman’s voice. Who will call us bitches for being firm, or raise a hand mid-sentence to silence us. But we have a voice and it’s there to be used. Use it to spread kindness, awareness, and compassion. Don’t let it go to waste.

Happy International Women’s Day!

If you’d like to answer these questions to be posted in ‘Part Two’, email Jacqueline at hello@thecuriouselement.com.

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