International gratitude for women

Today is the end of March, the international month to show gratitude and respect for women and the ongoing movement for equality of life, opportunities, safe and meaningful employment, dignity, etc. March 8, International Women’s Day, is “a global day of recognition celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and girls, and raising awareness of the work left to be done”.

Throughout the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, women everywhere have taken on additional responsibilities to care for their families and communities. Supervising and accompanying children as they learn from home while managing the usual (housework, cooking, cleaning, paying bills, etc.) and often working from home themselves, has not been, it not easy. How do you feed your family when you (and or other members of your family) have lost your job and are forbidden from leaving home due to lockdown measures? It is no secret that domestic violence exploded with the pandemic, around the world. There are no easy solutions, but many NGOs that support women continue to do their best to provide services to alleviate immediate struggles. The pandemic is far from over and countless lives have been lost, with so many more forever altered. Funerals and other similar arrangements are overwhelmingly prepared by women. Prior to COVID-19, women were already bearing the majority of emotional labour, expected of us since we are little girls, but now…? The weight is heavy. So many women I know, near and far, from various social classes, are exhausted.

Photo by my friend Sheila Miranda, March 8 2020 in Merida, Mexico.

Last year, right before the pandemic, there were huge protests in countries including Mexico, aimed at bringing attention to the daily violence of many forms that so many girls and women face. Thousands of women continue to be harassed, violently assaulted and raped by men in their communities and many of these victims are then killed and their families spend days, weeks, months or years searching for them.

I personally know of a young woman who lived this just recently (in Peru), though luckily, she was not murdered. El País published an article on Jan 31 2021 stating that 11,828 women were disappeared in Peru alone, just in 2020. Here is the article, en español.

Globally, including here in Canada, there is still a staggering lack of justice for males who carry out such horrifying acts of violence. Legal systems lag behind and, very often, women are blamed by the judges themselves for what “happens to them”, meaning that the majority of victims never come forward. No, these are not things that “happen to them”, these are things that are “done to them” by actors, who are usually males. There is no time for passive voice when there are clearly people choosing to take violent actions against girls and women, constantly. Political systems do little to help create meaningful change; power lies in the hands of those with money and connections (usually men).

Here is a song from Playing for Change singer-songwriters Salif Diarra (from Burkina Faso) and Angel Farmache (from Spain). “Miiry” is “an original song about thinking positively so that you will attract good things”. Playing for Change is a beautiful, worldwide movement and I admire the work that they have done to unite musicians for decades. They posted: “Share your love and this song with all the special women in your life and let’s continue to uplift them each and every day!”. I appreicate the very good intentions and beauty of this expressive song. Prior to singing, Diarra explains what the song is about en français and expressives gratitude to women and mothers everywhere.

Positive thoughts are not enough to improve the lives of girls and women, but creative expression and systemic changes combined will help. Please do your part in your community every day, not just during March.

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