What International Women’s Day means in 2018

Nicole Casal, Staff Writer

On March 1, William Paterson University celebrated International Women’s Day, a week before its official date of March 8. WP is celebrating by offering different guest speakers and panel discussions over the course of two weeks.

During the International Women’s Day Panel, the panelists include Dr. Arlene Holpp Scala, Dr. Danielle Wallace, Dr. Elena Sabogal and Dr. Sreevidya Kalaramadam. This panel was sponsored by the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, Africana World Studies and The Women’s Center.

Dr. Scala spoke first, giving the room a brief history of International Women’s Day. This year is the 111th observance. In 1908, American women marched for better working conditions and voting rights. Now, women march for equal pay and reproductive rights.

Dr. Wallace, a professor of Africana World Studies and Women and Gender Studies, spoke about the powerful black women in our history, like Rosa Parks. Without Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have never had the reach and platform that he did.

Wallace also brought up the point, that Parks was not a sweet, old woman who refused to give up her seat to a white man on a bus. Parks was an anti-rape activist who put her life at risk every day trying to end violence against black women.

She made the connection from segregation to the Black Lives Matter movement. Although black children no longer have to go different schools, they are being murdered by the police that are put in place to protect them.

Following Wallace was Dr. Sabogal, who discussed feminism in Central and South America. She introduced the group to the term “femicide,” which she defined as the murder of women for gender-based reasons. “Femicide” was first documented in the Dominican Republic.

In the 1990s, young women in Mexico who had disappeared were turning up dead and sexually mutilated. The brutal amount of attacks in Latin America sparked the movement ‘Ni Una Menos’ or ‘Not One Less.’

Closing off the discussion was Dr. Kalaramadam. She brought up the rise of women and gender studies around the world. “International Women’s Day should be about raising universal issues.”

She talked about gender equality having a different meaning in every country. Although some countries may seem to be moving slowly toward under equality, any step forward is valid.

The panel ended with a round of questions. Sabogal commented that although machismo is deeply rooted in many Latin American countries, women should not give up and continue to fight for their rights. She also noted that there is a history of impunity in Latin America. Men do not get punished so women must find clever ways to fight the patriarchy.