Yesterday, March 8th, the whole world celebrated International Women's Day. The idea for International Women's Day was tabled by Clara Zetkin at the second International Conference of Working women held in Copenhagen. The idea was born from the desire to unite women across the world to help them press for progress and equality. Since it's birth, International Women's Day has grown to become a global day of recognition and celebration in countries across the world. In fact, it is an official holiday in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China, Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Laos, Madagascar, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Zambia. This years theme's included, 'Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures,' 'Equal Pay For Work of Equal Value,' and 'Empower Rural Women--End Hunger and Poverty.'
So, those are the roots of International Women's Day. Women's empowerment and celebrating women as people, not objects...now, I'm going to tell you all about how we celebrated, or got celebrated rather, in Colombia.
I liken International Women's Day in Colombia to another Valentine's Day. Only this go 'round, everybody loves me, not just my boyfriend! It's customary to buy little gifts of flowers and chocolate for the women in your life. For weeks the 11th grade boys at my school had been planning the 'celebration' for the 11th grade girls. It included powerpoint presentation, songs, poems, gifts, and a final karaoke sing-along. It also proved to be a fun and formal way to find out which students have a little crush on their gringa English teacher...
|All the 111th grade girls!|
|All the boys who took charge and planned the celebration|
After receiving my flowers and chocolates and learning a whole boat load of new love songs in Spanish from my students... the male teachers had another celebration for us! More of the same really: flowers, candy, cake, gifts, and more serenading. (And where were the student's you ask...well the got sent home clearly!)
|Basically this says Happy Women's Day...and then has a picture of a bottle of whiskey at the bottom...|
My stories are tame compared to those of some of my fellow volunteers. One of my friends had her male teachers during their teacher celebration ask the crowd which female teacher was the sexiest and then proceed to show a slide show of swim suit models with female teacher's faces superimposed on them. Safe to say, I think the point of women's day was lost. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate being appreciated, and I loooooove flowers and chocolate, but telling me that you're celebrating women because they're so feminine and delicate is kiiiiiiiinda missing the point folks! It was a fun day, but I'm looking forward to next year to planning some women empowerment activities :)
Also, as a side note, my camera, after witnessing the vast majority of carnival, and putting up with entirely too much foam and flour and other unknown substances, is a goner. SO SAD!!! So I apologize for the rather poor photo quality, but it's going to take me *quite* a bit of time to save up for a new camera on my Peace Corps salary. Sorry folks, looks like it's going to be more writing and less eye candy for awhile.