International Women’s Day from the Perspective of Vanessa Vlajkovic: Stand Together, Not Against One Another

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Illustration: Cerys Knighton

I don’t typically celebrate International Women’s Day in any specific way, but not because I don’t want to. I’ve just never been invited anywhere for it and so have just not had the opportunity.

I do believe that International Women’s Day should be celebrated globaly – every woman in our society deserves to be recognised for their contributions. Disabled women, women of colour; these groups need to be included too. Sometimes it’s easy to overlook the minority groups because the world has been conditioned to disregard them. But they are not any less significant and their achievements should certainly be celebrated along with the rest. As a disabled woman myself, I strongly encourage and advocate for the need to include everyone; some people are quiet achievers and like to keep a low profile – this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t publically congratulate them.

To someone from another planet, I would describe International Women’s Day by saying that it is a 24 hour period; just one day from the whole calendar year, in which every one who identifies as being of the female species, should give themselves a pat on the back and a few words of positivity. That’s at the basic level; obviously there is much more to it than that but essentially International Women’s Day strives to highlight the accomplishments of women far and wide – no matter their age, race, socio-economic status, disability or any other discrccminating factors. This day exists to honour the women who have given in the past and those who are giving today. It exists so that the historically embedded idea of male domination is put to rest. Because we women are equals to our male counterparts, despite what some countries may believe. The Middle East is a little ways behind on womens rights, but I sincerely hope that in the near future things will change and improve in these places where men still rule.

It is incredibly hard for some womens voices to be heard due to their inability to express themselves in a manner appropriate to their culture. But the challenge for disabled women in particular is doubled – we are seen as inferior, even by fellow women who are nondisabled. Women should stand together, not against one another. In the disabled community, there are a lot of women who have silently given their time, their knowledge, their energy, to contribute towards some aspect of life on Earth, and been unnoticed. The lack of visibility of these women is a problem which needs to be addressed, and soon. I did say the Middle East needs to play catch-up in womens rights, but even in first world developed countries like Australia and America, work needs to be done. Wages for women doing men’s jobs are smaller, jobs for disabled women are next to impossible to find. These are just a couple of examples but the list is very long. In short, I would like to see more disabled women being recognised publicly on International Women’s Day so that awareness can be spread and the general nondisabled population can realise that there is more to us than meets the eye; that we too, are capable of doing great things.

Vanessa Vlajkovic

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