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Celebration of 8 March 2014: A day with full of spirit for change!

March 14th, 2014 by Posted in Women's leadership

Qumrunnessa  Nazly- Policy Officer

International Women's Day Celebration

International Women’s Day Celebration

It was indeed a wonderful day at Oxfam in Bangladesh, when we were celebrating this year’s International Women’s Day.  The day started with greetings from Khalas’ team (Kitchen staff) with purple color Chundri Orna (long scarf) and a thin bunch of flowers, with full of spirit, and feelings of togetherness. I could feel that each and every one of the Oxfam family present at the office wholeheartedly celebrating  the day.

Seeing the men colleagues comfortably walking around wearing the scarf, made it apparent that women dress code is merely a social construction, though a strong tool frequently used by the  opponents of women’s rights to restrict women’s mobility and freedom of movement.  The different style of wearing the scarf also reminds that dress up is above all a matter of individual comfort and choice!  What we have to show is the respect for diversity and individual choice, a core element of gender equality.  And, the day proves that yes, we can do this simple task for the greater impact.

For a while we swapped our shoes with male colleagues. Diverse feeling was really interesting to hear how we feel discomfort experiencing new things, also how we get accustomed to feel comfortable with the discomfort situation.  Also how the market economy provokes us to set ourselves in discomfort able style though detrimental to health as well (women’s high hill shoes).

I was remembering my childhood, as my father used to buy boy’s shoes for us (sisters) with the logic that those are comfortable. In fact we didn’t like my father’s choices, as my other girl cousins always put on girl shoes looking nice! I even now cannot remember when I turned to put women’s shoes! Also don’t think at all about this now.

Segment on 60 seconds speech was attractive. Recitation of a poem reflecting how women accepts everything even the physical violence OK for her reminds us how women becomes all tolerant.  Some brave colleagues voluntary picked topic from lottery box and expressed their feeling/ statement in 60 seconds. The realization, commitment, belief of Oxfam family members on gender equality issues was really inspiring, as individual commitment for a little change at the family level is important, and in fact change at individual level is crucial.

This all day long celebration of women’s rights day with fun also has given us quite handful of food for thoughts to our future focus for our gender equality work both with external audience and internally within Oxfam family.

After all, struggle for my right as a woman is a struggle for establishing myself as independent individual entity as a human being, which must be distinct from my relationship with others either as daughter, sister, or wife…? Struggle for gender equality is above all the identity struggle!

And, my feeling at the end is that it is fundamentally important to have a common agreement on some basic questions: What do we mean by women’s rights? What do we mean by equality and equity?  And, whether equality is the fundamental benchmark for equity?

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