Choose to challenge. International Women’s Day 2021 is founded on the need for us to challenge the world around us. Challenge gender stereotypes. Challenge the double standards. Challenge the gendered actions. Challenge everything and show that International Women’s Day is (unfortunately) still as relevant today as it was in 1911. Think I’m exaggerating? Take a look at the ongoing double standards in US politics, right up to the confirmation debates for Neera Tanden. Take a look at the impact of COVID-19 on women’s health and salaries. Take a look at the recent sexual assault case being shuffled around in the Australian Parliament House. And don’t even get me started on women’s rights in Myanmar, China, Argentina, Nigeria.
For International Women’s Day, it is important for us to take the day seriously. It is more than a bunch of flowers or a pretty card to remind us of the date. It is not a day to claim women are better than men. It IS a day to claim women deserve to be respected and considered equal to men. It is a day when we can Make or Play or Watch or Read a range of things to help forward our cause. To point out the gaping holes in our social mentality and understand why we should be challenging this from a much younger age.
This week, my goal is to use Make/Play/Watch/Read to inspire you to challenge. Celebrating International Women’s Day is the first step: it challenges every single person out there who claims everything is okay. Every person who thinks we don’t need an International Women’s Day. Because I can tell you right now, everything is not okay. Things have stalled. And it is not going to improve until we challenge the world to do so.
Make a Donation – TABOO
There are a lot of the same-old suggestions for things to make for International Women’s Day. Sure, I could make a cute flower collage on a card with my 7-year-old daughter, but how would this be challenging the socio-norms she is facing even at this young age? There is plenty I can do with her to evoke change, but there is something even better I can do right now to march that path with her.
This week, there will be no crafty “Make” for the article. There will be no meal or snack from my kitchen. This week, I am challenging you to make a donation to any organization that will make a difference in women’s lives.
My personal choice is inspired by the Young Australian of the Year 2021, Isobel Marshall, and her organization, TABOO. Marshall co-founded TABOO with her school friend Eloise Hall. In August 2019, they crowdfunded AUD$56,000 to launch a range of sanitary products to the Australian market with 100% of the net profits going to One Girls’—a charity providing education programs for girls and women in Sierra Leone and Uganda.
TABOO has also provided amazing services and challenged the stigma of menstruation in Australia. Yep, some women bleed once a month. Some men, if they have transitioned in gender, and some non-binary and intersex folx too. It continues to be one of the most “taboo” topics in society, no matter how advanced we may be socially or economically. It continues to hinder education and work opportunities for years, depending on access to health and finances to pay for necessities like sanitary napkins/pads, tampons, and menstrual cups. TABOO has recognized this issue and attacked it directly with partnerships to support vulnerable women in situations where menstruation can leave them feeling even worse. TABOO partnered with Vinnies Women’s Crisis Centre to provide free access to pads and tampons for women in emergency accommodation in South Australia. They have also provided support for Australian Indigenous communities and the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council.
For International Women’s Day, I challenge you to Make a Difference. I am going to make a donation to TABOO. They are accepting both donations and volunteer help. (You can learn more here.) Alternatively, look in your local area for ways to help. Find a women’s shelter, local library, or even ask at the school. Find a way to contribute or donate and Make a Difference.
Play: Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity
Generally, I prefer to spruce indie games wherever I can, especially if there is already a review for the game on GeekDad or GeekMom (like GeekDad Z’s review here). However, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity really fits the theme for International Women’s Day. It may seem trivial to play computer games on International Women’s Day, but self-care is important (which includes gaming). Plus, the games you choose to play send a message to developers about the games we want in the future.
The Legend of Zelda franchise celebrated its 35th anniversary this year. That’s 35 years of the same story but told in different ways. It also had the same characters for 35 years, primarily Link as the protagonist and Princess Zelda needing his support. For a game with Zelda in the title, it has been very Link-heavy across almost 30 games. Before Age of Calamity, Zelda has been a playable character in five different games—and only one of those is considered part of the main story. Age of Calamity has not only made Zelda into a playable character, with an independent and autonomous identity, it has created a story that is essential about Zelda. Yes, the story is about the Fall of Hyrule but what drives the story is the arc of Zelda’s character, her growth, and her relationships with others. For the first time, The Legend of Zelda is truly about the Legend, Zelda. And about time too.
Nintendo would gain huge respect if they continue to strengthen Zelda’s playable status throughout the franchise. It would benefit everyone if they have both Link and Zelda playing in Breath of the Wild 2, building on Zelda’s studies and mystical abilities. They can choose to challenge their own gaming norms and allow us to explore established titles with access to equal play across the characters. Of course, you do not have to stick to Legend of Zelda. Use this International Women’s Day to challenge yourself with better games displaying greater respect and recognition of women. Let us know in the comments what you are playing so I can add it to my playlist too.
Watch: I Am Greta (Amazon Prime)
When Greta Thunberg hit the world stage, she challenged everything. Her message challenged our outdated policies for climate change. Her approach challenged how we demand action. She invigorated a younger generation into a substantial and sustained global movement, forcing our complacent older leaders to listen. They didn’t like it; they never do. However, her success lies in the ability to continue challenging our views, on both the environment and the way many people viewed “a young girl.” Greta has unfortunately faced more than her fair share of condescension and abuse, targeting her age, her neurodiversity, and her gender.
In late 2020, I Am Greta was released to mixed reviews. The film documented two-years in the life of Greta Thunberg, a teenage Swedish climate change activist who reawakened a movement amongst people her age. Nathan Grossman (director) captures the earliest days of Greta and her weekly School Strike for the Climate. In doing so, we gain an insight into how this became such a pivotal point for Greta and how she then evoked this passion in others.
This is not a documentary about climate change; it is a documentary of a person who is demanding we all change. It was this message lost on many reviewers who were expecting it to be comparative with An Inconvenient Truth. Greta is already a commanding voice in the School Strikes for Climate. I recommend you watch this documentary to understand how Greta made such an impact and why we need to learn from her experience.
This documentary is solely about Greta and her drive to make a difference. We see Greta embracing her neurodiversity and using it to strengthen her speeches, her presentations, her life. Greta has challenged every person who claims climate change policies are too complicated for “young girls” to understand. The goal of watching I Am Greta is not to simply inspire people to join the same environmental cause (although, that too would be great). The goal for watching I Am Greta is to inspire you to find your own cause and choose to challenge whatever stands in your way.
Read: Choose to Challenge Your Reading Pile
Fellow GeekMom Sophie has been collating reading lists for International Women’s Day for years. Sure, I have a few ideas and have contributed in the past, but in all honesty, Sophie’s lists are the best. Her list for IWD Books in 2021 is coming up in the next couple of days, so make sure you keep an eye out for it. Until then, check out her previous lists for 2020, 2019, and 2018. Each of her lists includes a range of books, varying in age suitability and content. Perfect for those who will choose to challenge their reading comfort zone. My personal favorite is Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Pénélope Bagieu, translated by Montana Kane.
This is the year to challenge our views on International Women’s Day. When you look at it through a lens of current affairs and social behavior, it is so clear we still have a long way to go. For International Women’s Day, I choose to challenge my perception of exactly how much we have achieved. I will challenge the message I have previously shared with my sons and daughter. I will challenge how we are led to believe it is all okay.
Choose to challenge and make a difference for today and future generations.