In March 1911 over a million women and men in Austria, Germany, Denmark and Switzerland came together to mark the first International Women’s Day. It was a remarkable display of solidarity for those fighting discrimination and campaigning for the most basic of women’s rights – to vote, to work and to be elected to public office.
March 8th is celebrated in countries around the world, with thousands of events held to honor women. It’s a time to celebrate, and also a time to reflect on the status of women today.
“Of the approximately 50 million people displaced from their homelands, about 80 percent are women and children. Of the 1.3 billion people living on less than $1 a day, 70 percent are women. Among the chronically hungry people in the world, 60 percent are women,” reports Maryam Roberts in her article, “War, Climate & Women.” (read full article here)
And the problems don’t stop in the so called “first” world. During the past weeks in the United States, Republicans have proposed legislation that constitutes an all out war on women. They not only want to reduce women’s access to abortion care, they’re actually trying to redefine rape. In South Dakota, Republicans proposed a bill that could make it legal to murder a doctor who provides abortion care.
In Congress, Republicans have proposed a bill that would let hospitals allow a woman to die rather than perform an abortion necessary to save her life. Two-thirds of the elderly poor are women, and Republicans are proposing a spending bill would cut funding for employment services, meals, and housing for senior citizens. You can read more here.
Enough is Enough! Patriarchy is a worldwide problem even in the 21st century. Women around the world are paying a heavy price for the political decisions made by men in power. This International Women’s Day, lets have the courage to call out patriarchy and put an end to it.
In honor of this important holiday, I designed two posters to inspire those working to organize women around the world. The poster above was developed for Public Services International, a union based in Geneva, Switzerland, that represents 650 public sector trade unions and their 20 million public sector workers – the majority of whom are women. PSI fights injustice and inequality in the workplace and also campaigns on the importance of public services to people’s lives from birth to pension years. They have created an useful guide for public service workers which you can download by clicking here.
The poster below was developed in collaboration with Syracuse Cultural Workers. The image depicts a Latina worker organizing her community to stand up for the rights of immigrants. Behind her is a depiction of a feminine figure symbolizing both Mother Earth and every woman on the planet. There is no eye on the figure because the woman is all of us, you and me. In my art practice, I intentionally draw women as powerful, bold, and inspiring beings.
One of the greatest challenges for me growing up was to gain my self esteem as a young woman of color because most of the depictions I saw of women showed them as white, thin, blonde, and hyper-sexualized. I became an artist in order to claim my voice, and to show women in our fullest capacity.
And finally, below is a poster I did back in 2004 to celebrate IWD, which was about my own process of deconolization. This piece explores identity and image from every angle—cultural, physical, commercial, historical, spiritual – What is a woman’s authentic self? The woman in the left is “blind-me” and the woman in the right “raw-me.” In the piece, the blind-me is wearing a white shirt and the raw-me is wearing a black shirt, symbolizing the pressure we have as women of color to emulate white female standards of beauty. The blind-me is wearing earrings and lipstick. And the raw-me is wearing nothing. Both ladies have a tattoo on their arm. The broken heart on the left epitomizes the hardship and sadness that comes with our [women’s] failed attempts to be someone we are not, to be thinner, whiter, prettier, taller… the fact is that the oppression and objectification of women can take a toll on on our self esteem. The whole heart represents the wholeness and “raw” emotion we carry within ourselves, just as we are. You can pick up a copy here on Just Seeds.