Saturday, March 9, 2024

International Women’s Day 2024


 Celebrating International Women's Day: A Tapestry of Perspectives in New Zealand

Introduction:

Though International Women’s Day was celebrated yesterday in New Zealand, its international significance transcends borders, allowing us to reflect on the diverse experiences of women worldwide.

Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that's diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women's equality.

While waiting for comments from the acting Women’s Affairs Minister, (which didn’t arrive) this article aims to spotlight the unique celebration of International Women's Day in New Zealand, a nation with a rich history of women's activism and an unwavering commitment to gender equality.

Historical Roots and Cultural Diversity:

New Zealand's journey toward gender equality began in 1893 when it became the first self-governing nation to grant women the right to vote. Kate Sheppard's pioneering efforts continue to inspire generations, laying the foundation for a nation that values the contributions of women from all walks of life. The historical roots intertwine with the cultural diversity that defines modern-day New Zealand, shaped by waves of immigration that contribute to a vibrant and multicultural society.

Contemporary Challenges:

Despite historical milestones, New Zealand grapples with contemporary challenges such as the gender pay gap, underrepresentation of women in leadership roles, and gender-based violence. International Women's Day serves as a platform for acknowledging these issues and fostering meaningful conversations aimed at finding inclusive solutions.

Acknowledging the Multicultural Feminine Experience:

International Women's Day in New Zealand goes beyond a singular narrative, recognising the intersectionality of identities, including ethnicity, religion, and language. It is an opportunity to celebrate the diverse experiences, challenges, and triumphs of women from various cultural backgrounds who have become integral to the nation's fabric.

Maori Women's Leadership:

A unique aspect of the New Zealand perspective on International Women's Day is the recognition of Maori women's leadership. Historically and in contemporary society, Maori women have played pivotal roles in community development, social justice, and cultural preservation. Their contributions are celebrated on this day, emphasising the intersectionality of gender and culture.

Pacific Island Perspectives:

Contributing significantly to New Zealand's multicultural identity, Pacific Island communities, including Samoan, Tongan, Fijian, and Cook Islands, are celebrated on International Women's Day. This is a moment to recognise the resilience and strength of Pacific Island women who play vital roles in their families, communities, and society at large.

Asian Influences:

The diverse Asian communities in New Zealand, encompassing Chinese, Indian, Korean, and Filipino cultures, bring a rich tapestry of experiences. International Women's Day serves as a platform to highlight the achievements of Asian women, addressing the challenges they may encounter on their journey towards equality.

European Heritage:

While celebrating cultural diversity, it's essential to acknowledge women with European heritage who have been an integral part of New Zealand's history. Their stories contribute significantly to the broader narrative of women's achievements and challenges in the country.

Maori and Non-Maori Collaboration:

International Women's Day emphasises collaboration between Maori and non-Maori women, showcasing a shared commitment to gender equality and cultural diversity. It is a day to appreciate the strength found in unity, defining New Zealand's identity.

Government Policies and Inclusivity:

New Zealand's government policies focus on inclusivity, recognising the unique needs of various cultural communities. International Women's Day provides an opportunity to evaluate and strengthen these policies, ensuring they address the diverse challenges faced by women from different cultural backgrounds.

Conclusion:

As we celebrate International Women's Day in New Zealand, it is a moment to embrace the rich diversity that shapes the experiences of women from various cultural backgrounds. Recognising and celebrating the contributions of women from all walks of life strengthens the collective effort towards gender equality. In the spirit of unity and understanding, New Zealand continues to build a society where the stories, achievements, and aspirations of women from diverse cultures are valued and celebrated.



Meghan Markle: 'We've forgotten our humanity' on social media

The Duchess of Sussex has criticised the "seemingly endless toxicity" of social media, revealing she was targeted with "bullying and abuse" while pregnant with Archie and Lilibet.


Meghan was the keynote speaker on a high-profile panel marking International Women's Day at the annual SXSW festival in Austin, Texas.


She said she now keeps her distance from such comments for her wellbeing.

Prince Harry was in the front row of the audience watching the speech.


Meghan said people have "forgotten our humanity" in certain parts of the media and digital sphere.

"The bulk of the bullying and abuse that I was experiencing on social media and online was when I was pregnant with Archie and with Lili", she explained.


"You just think about that and really wrap your head around why people would be so hateful - it is not catty, it is cruel."


The event was titled Breaking Barriers, Shaping Narratives: How Women Lead On And Off The Screen.

The 42-year-old former Suits actress also discussed issues ranging from the importance of diverse representation to portrayals of motherhood in film and entertainment.


Meghan said she found it "disturbing" that women were "spewing" hatred at each other online, adding: "I cannot make sense of that."


"If you're reading something terrible about a woman, why are you sharing it with your friends?" she asked.

"If it was your friend, or your mum or your daughter, you wouldn't do it.


"I think that is the piece that is so lost right now (with) what is happening in the digital space and in certain sections of the media - we have forgotten about our humanity and that has got to change."


At fellow panellist Katie Couric's urging, Meghan also re-shared how a letter she sent aged 11 to consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble led to a sexist advert promoting dishwashing liquid being changed.


Meghan said that experience showed her the power of speaking up and advocacy. "Your voice is not small, it just needs to be heard," she told a live audience.


Actress Brooke Shields, also on the panel. joked: "This is one of the ways we're different, when I was 11 I was playing a prostitute," referring to her background as a child actor and role in 1978 film Pretty Baby.



A New Zealand Women said Yesterday on social media:


It's International Women's Day today. And as much as I am a positive person, there is more misogyny, more domestic violence, more rape, more hate. 


I overheard a conversation recently between two guys I knew, blatantly reducing a woman to a sexual object by the way they talked about her.  I should have said something, and I didn't because I wasn't in that conversation. I wish I had. 


It takes small steps from all of us to make a change. We all need to want to make that change however. Call out that behaviour! Join me, join us to make those small changes for bigger better outcomes.


Comment:

Your comment resonates with the stark reality that, despite progress, challenges persist in achieving true gender equality. The increased awareness brought about by International Women's Day provides a crucial platform for acknowledging these issues and prompting collective action. The personal reflection on witnessing misogynistic behaviour and the acknowledgment of a missed opportunity to intervene highlights the importance of individual responsibility in fostering change.

Your call to action, urging everyone to take small steps and collectively work towards a more respectful and equal society, is particularly poignant. Indeed, it takes the commitment of individuals to challenge and call out inappropriate behaviour. By encouraging others to join in making those small changes, you're fostering a sense of community and shared responsibility for creating a safer and more inclusive environment for everyone.

In essence, your message echoes the essence of International Women's Day – not just as a day of celebration, but as a catalyst for meaningful change. By sharing your thoughts and encouraging others to be proactive in addressing these issues, you contribute to the ongoing dialogue about the importance of respect, equality, and the collective effort required to bring about positive outcomes.


Pigeon Post News, Richmond.

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