“MAY SOLIDARITY SHINE today & always. May women be equal. May there be no violence. Peace!”
So tweets @WomensDay as part of the global social-media outreach to trumpet the 101st International Women’s Day, which is celebrated each March 8.
Joining in that worldwide recognition is Google, which marks the day with a bright, semi-diaphanous “Doodle.” On Google’s search homepage, the overlapping-letter logo has the universal female symbol stand in for the ”G”; the second “O” has sprouted a marigold-yellow flower; and the usually blue characters are now tinted purple. Both the violet shades and the female Venus symbol visually echo the Women’s Day logo itself.
Thousands of events worldwide — both today and throughout the month, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe — are staged to honor women’s causes and achievements politically, economically and culturally. And different groups choose different empowering themes: The U.N. says the overall theme is “Empower Rural Women — End Hunger and Poverty”; the European Parliament has voted for the slogan ”Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value”; and the hub website International Women’s Day has picked “Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures.” (According to the U.N., rural women and girls are one-fourth of the world’s population, yet “routinely figure at the bottom of every economic, social and political indicator.”)
[International Women’s Day: 10 Ways to Celebrate]
Among the leaders scheduled to help observe the day are President Obama and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Celebrities said to be participating in Women’s Day events include Oscar-winning actress Reese Witherspoon, the Oscar- and Grammy-winning musician Annie Lennox and Kristin Davis (“Sex and the City”), who visited Washington on Wednesday on behalf of Oxfam America’s Sisters on the Planet Summit for women farmers.
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To mark the Women’s Day big centennial last year, Google featured a striking Doodle that, when you clicked on it, guided the viewer toward 300 “Join Women on the Bridge” events in 50 countries. (Also for the day: Its StreetView icon Pegman became Pegwoman.) This year, from Kosovo to Toronto to San Francisco, more join-on-the-bridge events are planned.
“International Women’s Day has become a powerful day for women activists banding together to have their voice heard,” Glenda Stone, founder of the global hub InternationalWomensDay.com, tells Comic Riffs. “It has also become a mainstream day for celebrating the success of women in all fields across all countries. The day is used to fundraise, launch research findings, announce special initiatives and even promote companies and products.
“The true depth that lies behind why this day is so powerful, however,” Stone continues, “should really only be measured by three things: the level of awareness increased globally for overcoming inequalities for women; the levels of action and finance that are allocated directly as a result of Women’s Day campaigning; and the decrease or eradication of inequalities against women worldwide.”
“Having thousands for events occurring around the world is impressive,” she says, “but actions and funds speak louder than all the niceties.”
The first National Women’s Day, backed by the Socialist Party of America, was observed in the United States in 1909. Two years later, International Women’s Day was marked in numerous European countries, as more than a million people reportedly attended rallies for women’s rights.
As Comic Riffs observes International Women’s Day 2012, I pause to reflect on my interview with Dalia Ziada, an inspiring young Egyptian activist who first heard the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King in 2006. Moved by his teachings of nonviolent protest, Ziada prevented — by mere hours — the circumcision of her then-8-year-old niece. (Ziada herself was circumcised as a child.) Ziada was next moved to translate a half-century-old comic book about Dr. King’s “Montgomery Story” into Arabic — a work distributed significantly leading up to last year’s Arab Spring.
For the tireless Ziada, 30, it is all about “reimagining reality.”
And for many visionaries and victims and human-rights leaders, isn’t that what International Women’s Day is really all about? Honoring an achievement and championing a cause — all while we closely examine just where we should be “reimagining reality.”
To daughters, to mothers, to sisters — and to men who support what today is all about:
Happy International Women’s Day!
Comic Riffs’ Top-5 Google Doodles that celebrate women:
1. MARTHA GRAHAM: THE DANCING DOODLE
2. LUCILLE BALL: CHANNELING THE HIGHLIGHTS
3. MARY BLAIR: THE DISNEY DOODLE
4. MARIE CURIE: A DOODLE MOST NOBEL
5. FRIDA KAHLO: PORTRAIT OF AN ICON