International Women’s Day: To Celebrate in Protest

This article was originally submitted on the 3rd April

It began with a 4:30am start and a cold bus ride to the beach. I remember telling people about this, to which I received many comments involving the word ‘crazy’, but that’s why I did it.

On International Women’s Day 2022, I ran into the ocean at sunrise and it was the best thing I’ve done all year. It wasn’t just memorable for the incredibly deep orange in the sky but the fact that I was joined by about 300 people whooping and screaming in simultaneous joy and terror at how cold the water was.

However, what really made it the best way to start this day was the atmosphere; warm, welcoming, excited, happy. Not a single person didn’t have a smile on their face. Donuts and flasks of tea were being passed around to those shivering and woolly hats dominated the beach landscape.

The event, organised by a group of female swimmers, is an annual event that after two years of covid restrictions was finally open to large numbers again. The gathering raised money for women’s charities in Edinburgh, internationally and in support for Ukrainian refugees abroad which made it truly a memorable morning.
After a particularly cold bus ride home and a warm shower to feel human again, the walk to campus was filled with International Women’s Day events. Outside the Scottish Parliament, I briefly participated in a protest for ‘Women against Climate Change’ that ended up protesting the whole day.

What makes International Women’s Day such an experience is the true testament to the solidarity and loyalty women show each other.
Since coming to University, I’ve managed to gain so many valuable female friendships, from sporting events where female team members are always shouting the loudest in support of each other, to nights out in club toilets making friends with people simply because they self-identify as women.

International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate those friendships and connections we make with people. To celebrate the fact that we are enough as we are and powerful to be who we want to be without need of validation.

By the end of the day, I attended a themed film night in a cosy corner of The Counting House with Geogsoc that ended with the rolling credits of ‘Legally Blonde’ and an incredible feeling of contentment.

Content and accepted as a woman at University, one who has the freedom to do as she pleases as I celebrated International Women’s Day with the women I’ve met since moving here 7 months ago. There are many who aren’t as fortunate, many women who still live in fear of violence, conflict, abuse, denied reproductive rights and shamed for being women in the first place.

International Women’s Day is also about reminding ourselves that there is still work to do. There is still a drastic need for change in most social, economic and political circles when it comes to promoting actively anti-misogynistic legislation and women’s fundamental human rights; that includes this country.

Therefore, here’s a reminder that International Women’s Day is as much a celebration as a reminder that there is still a lot to be done. This includes trans and cis women of all races, religions, financial status and body type. Too many labels exist at present that seek to place self-identifying women into separate boxes dividing us or turning us against each other when actually we are our own greatest allies against adversity and inequality. We are the change.

A few key dates to consider in the coming months:
31st March – International Transgender Day of Visibility
June – PRIDE month
July 14th – International Non-Binary People’s Day

Image courtesy of Ella Raphael