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The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Celebrating International Women's Day with art

By Mariana Roa Oliva

As the International Women’s Day approaches, a series of events all over the world are being organized to commemorate it.
Here in the Twin Cities, some of the major events planned are an art exhibition and a symposium both related to the universal right of access to water, and a day-long celebration at the University of Minnesota with workshops, plenary sessions and performances.
In New York City, the boutique Lanc“me will give complimentary make up looks, while the United Nations Recreation Council and the Latin Workshop Society celebrate the day by displaying the work of 30 women artists and featuring 10 women poets.
In Hong Kong, the Women’s Foundation will be hosting a “Gala Lunch” in the Renaissance Harbor View Hotel, and a three-day film festival in Delhi and Boston will be dedicated to Indian women. In 35 countries, this date is a public holiday and in most European countries it is a tradition to give flowers and chocolates to women. International forums, conferences and roundtables will be taking place along with concerts, dance performances and art exhibitions in the countries that recognize this day.
It is not surprising that most of the International Women’s Day events are arts related: art has always been a medium for raising consciousness about social issues, and for promoting expression and participation. What is somewhat surprising is the approach being taken more recently towards this day, compared to how it was almost a century ago, when it was called “Working Women’s Day” and had a more distinctive political character. Women’s day originated as a struggle for acquiring equal political rights.
The strikes and demonstrations in Russia and the U.S.A. at the beginning of the twentieth century contrast with the mostly celebratory and commemorating events we observe now. The United Nations’ motto for this year’s IWD is “Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities, Progress for All”. The phrase now holds different implications from the ones it had in 1913 in Saint Petersburg, with the movement pursuing the emancipation of women workers along with the unification of the working class.
This is not to say that the achievements in improving women’s situations around the world are not to be celebrated. Of course the recognition of women and women’s accomplishments are necessary, encouraging and stimulating. The presentation of women’s art and artwork related to women are very valuable part of the day’s celebration. Art performances and exhibitions are essential for the day’s intention to raise awareness about the things that still have to be done in terms of economical and political rights, especially as the conferences, panels and discussions are in general less accessible. One can only hope that this year’s events of the IWDs achieve something similar to what Alexandra Kollontai commented about the first Worker Women’s Day in Russia: “Women’s Day did achieve something. It turned out above all to be an excellent method of agitation among the less political of our proletarian sisters. They could not help but turn their attention to the meetings, demonstrations, posters, pamphlets and newspapers that were devoted to Women’s Day”.
Here at Macalester, the commemoration of this day will consist of a “Weight Room Takeover”, so you have the option to stop by the Leonard Center on March 8 at 5:30 p.m. and take a workshop in how to properly use the equipment…

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