Celebrating International Women’s Day

by Claire Robertson

March 8 marks a call to action, a day devoted to pursuing womankind’s quest for gender equality. This year’s commemoration of female accomplishments falls on a Wednesday, another day where women’s work is never done. Although it evolved from marches across North America, Europe, and Russia at the turn of the century, today International Women’s Day celebrates diverse achievements in countries around the world.

Let us celebrate women who boldly pursue change. Remember Ilhan Omar, the first Somali-American elected to a congressional position in America last year. Honor her story, the compelling journey of a refugee child, from translating for her grandfather to representing constituents. Commemorate Madeleine Korbel Albright, the first female Secretary of State and an inspiration to future stateswomen. Her family fled the Czech Republic twice; first from the Nazis, and then from the Communists.

Let us honor women who proclaim their stories. Remember Marlene Dietrich, the actress and political refugee who fled Germany and sang for America’s troops, even after her younger sister was sent to Bergen-Belsen in retaliation. Celebrate Gloria Estefan, the singer who fled Cuba. Honor Isabel Allende, the writer who escaped a Chilean coup. Sing the truths of refugee women who enrich our country.

And remember the unnamed women like them who face sexual violence and barriers to education…and still persist.

Perhaps we cannot imagine refugee life, condensing our existence into whatever can be carried in weary hands and yearning hearts. These hardships lie fathoms away from our understanding…but our bold quest for gender parity must include these narratives. On International Women’s Day, let us welcome these mothers and daughters as sisters. It is our job to make this Wednesday different, to uplift their stories and be bold for change.