|Women doing some of the mundane work of the movement: |
"Souvenir booklet sales table at March on Washington, 1963."
Photo by Marion S.Trikosko [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
For International Women’s Day, I’m thinking about the women who go unnoticed by history but whose efforts were nonetheless essential for bringing about social change for the better. I’m thinking, for example, of the churchgoing women portrayed in the movie Selma who were packing bedrolls, medical supplies, and food for the marchers.
Feminism doesn’t just mean lauding the women who have achieved renown (although I am certainly proud of them, too), but also appreciating the everyday labor that women do, the small actions they take to create a better world. It could be a personal conversation. It could be lessons imparted to a child. It could be letters written to people in power. It could be a work slowdown or stoppage.
I think of women I saw in Dakar, standing up to men in the marketplace, or putting themselves in danger to stop fights, or talking with each other in courtyards about what was wrong in their country and how to fix it. They formed small collectives and pooled funds to lift each other up and improve their communities. Many women infuse the tasks they must do every day—make food, raise children, go to work, stitch together household funds—with social justice.
To all of them, and all of you, thank you.