Today’s post come from Prof. Wendy Shaw, an Associate Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences, and, unlike other posts, it is as much a call to action as it is a reflection. Wendy is spearheading a project in which women from all across the SIUE community will take a moment on March 6 (International Women’s Day, observed) to record a detail of their lives using a camera or smartphone. Then we’ll share these images, allowing for glimpses into one another’s lives and into ourselves as a larger community. It’s terrific project, and we hope you’ll participate! Wendy describes the inspiration for the project–and how you might participate–below:
Quick… take this quiz. What is special about December 25th, July 4th, September 11th, and March 8th? If you got three out of four you are probably not alone. Every year March 8th is celebrated as International Women’s Day. The day is fundamentally different than the other three dates. Christmas Day is obviously important to (some) Christians, while July 4th and September 11th are seminal dates to Americans. International Women’s Day, in contrast, crosses faiths, national boundaries, age, ethnicity, class, and cultures. It is a day that is relevant to almost half of humankind and is celebrated or recognized in multitudinous and multifaceted ways. International Women’s Day activities may celebrate, document, agitate, contemplate, or network. Whatever the activity, at its heart are the lived experiences of women.
A Women’s Day was first observed in 1909 in an event organized by the Socialist Party of America; the event came after women marched and went on strike in 1908 seeking shorter hours, better pay, and voting rights. In 1911 International Women’s Day was honored for the first time, and International Women’s Day became more firmly established in 1977 when the United Nations invited member states to recognize March 8th each year as the U.N. Day for women’s rights and world peace. So here we are approaching International Women’s Day 2015.
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Make it Happen’. A call to action. I found myself thinking about the diversity of women and their lives across the world and what those words might mean to them. I know so little about the lives of my global sisters. Thinking about it, I don’t know very much about the women who I might pass by on a daily basis. We live so much in our own skins, see only our own footsteps, see through our own eyes. How can we do otherwise?
It was from these thoughts that the idea of an International Women’s Day project ‘A Day in the Life of Women at SIUE’ was born. Could we ask women across campus to take a single photograph, on a designated day, that speaks to them about their life as a woman? A glimpse perhaps into someone’s world – into a collective world. What would these photographs, from this time and this place, reveal about SIUE’s students, staff, and faculty? Will there be some things in common – some fellowship of experience in the shared images? Or perhaps more of an album of the uniqueness of each life lived in such close proximity? I invite all SIUE women to find out. Make it happen!
So here is the project. On Friday, March 6th take a photograph. Submit the photograph via the Women’s Studies webpage, twitter (#SIUEWwomensday), or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). From these photographs we will produce a poster – a collage of images. A collective snapshot of the lives of SIUE women. See the SIUE Women’s Studies webpage to participate: https://siuewmst.wordpress.com/international-womens-day/