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By: Saira Sayed Chaudhry, Calgary South
Since 1911, the International women’s day is celebrated each year on March 8th. Historically the premise for this day was to focus and promote equal rights for women. For more than for over a hundred years in different regions of the world the focus of the celebrations ranges from general celebration of respect, appreciation and love towards women to a celebration for women’s economic, political, and social achievements.
Each year The UN has different themes that are used to mark International Women’s day last year it was “A Promise is a Promise: Time for Action to End Violence Against Women” this year the theme was “Equality for women is progress for all”. The concept is simple in women being on an equal footing with men, benefits the whole world.
Inspired by this message a small group of four women from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Association decided to celebrate and promote International Women’s day at the University of Calgary. The women set up a booth in the science building flanked at each side there were striking posters that highlighted and emphasized the equal status of women in Islam and the high regard Islam bestows on women. It must be noted the relevance of this message was to contradict the general perception that Muslim women are backward in a male-dominated world.
Furthermore the women had assembled a small token to give to the passing female students. A fresh rose with a simple message “Love for All, Hatred for None”. On the back of that message were empowering words that illustrate the qualities of women: Remarkable, Valiant, Proficient, Compassionate, Courageous, Spirited, Serene, Conscientious, Resilient, Authentic, Admirable, Charismatic, Noble, Resolute, Steadfast and Vital.
The response was overwhelming as the recipients were surprised and then delighted at such a simple yet affectionate gesture. Curiosity bought students to the booth which displayed an array of literature on Islam and three stunning pieces of handmade art. The art was made by one of the women and her brother, which were graciously gifted in a prize draw.
It is evident that over the hundred years much progress has ensued for women rights, however ample is left to be done. Women are still regarded as second class citizen’s and deprived of various basic rights enjoyed by the male population. We all need to not only resent this discrimination but to champion the fight to obtain equal rights and status for women. A poignant quote comes to mind that resonates with the UN theme, “No struggle can ever succeed without women participating side by side with men”, Muhammad Ali Jinnah.