“Any woman who chooses to behave like a full human being should be warned that the armies of the status quo will treat her as something of a dirty joke . . . She will need her sisterhood.” – Gloria Steinem
International Women’s Day was born in 1908 when thousands of women gathered in New York City to vocalize and march in unison about the need for change against inequality. This year, the uplifting worldwide event takes place on Mar. 8 and Chicago is privy to a variety of celebrations – Mar. 8 and 9 at MultiKulti, 1000 N. Milwaukee. The event uniquely combines a fundraiser for Chicago Women’s Health Center along with health workshops, art showcases, spoken word performances and live musical/visual acts.
“When the plans started for this event, we knew that in addition to the celebration we also wanted this to be a fundraiser for a local organization. Chicago Women’s Health Center was our choice because they provide affordable health care to women and Trans people in the city,” says Martin, a community organizer with Quennect 4 Gallery. Friday evening’s benefit includes poetry and musical performances by Ang13, Las Bompleneras, Lizzo and Big P*ssy along with live art demonstrations and a workshop provided by Sage Community Health Collective.
“We need to respect each other, try to understand one another, and try to help those that do not see their true value, not just as women but as worthy deserving people among everyone else,” says Laura Hernandez, one of the women polled. Maritza Tejada explains, “It means we count and we are a group that can no longer be ignored. At the end of the day we are all stronger when we come together.”
Martin, 30, says another reason for this two-day event is appreciation. “International Women’s Day is a chance for me to honor all the women I am surrounded by and all the women who came before me. The revolutionaries, mothers, artists, mentors and everyone in between who had to work to achieve their goals through very difficult social standards,” she says. “I appreciate all the strong women I get to interact with. I just really want to honor and thank them and recognize their influence on me and the world.”
It’s also important to recognize that despite the numerous achievements there is still much to be done. “It’s a two part deal and we must also do our part to see the benefits of living in a much freer nation than others. Despite our advancement in this country, though, there is still enough inequality and disrespect to be fully complacent,” says Hernandez. Houston teenager Damaris Silva conveys a similar sentiment, “A good thing about being a woman is our strength. I think it’s pretty awesome. And we can make little miracles by having children. The bad part is that we live in a world where looks are very important and some people feel pressured to look like what they see on TV and in fashion magazines.”
Regardless of some of the setbacks women encounter, they are resolved to continue paving the way for future generations. Saturday’s celebration is a testament to this as it features the coming together of over 20 visual and musical artists on a local, national and international level. Taking the stage will be Brooklyn’s Xenia Rubinos, along with Maria Carballo from Argentina and folk rock artist Hannah Frank. They’ll be joined by DJs Amateur Hour and Miss Cedeño. Martin’s own artistic endeavors, which focus on urban environments, everyday beauty and resistant cultures, will be on display.
For more information, visit: internationalwomensday.com, chicagowomenshealthcenter.org, rockotitlanchicago.org.