For 44 years, International Women’s Day has brought about reflection across the world on the progress that has been made toward gender equality.
Celebrated on Monday, March 8, International Women’s Day is a global holiday promoting the recognition of women’s achievements, influence and progress. This year’s theme, “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world,” was selected by the United Nations to recognize the efforts made by women to bring the COVID-19 pandemic to an end. In response, many Aggies call for action against gender-based descrimination and celebrate women’s acts of courage.
Entomology senior Dorothy Woods said International Women's Day is important because women are often unrecognized for their accomplishments.
“One example of this is Rosalind Franklin, who was vital in our understanding of DNA, RNA and viruses through her discoveries,” Woods said. “She was one of my favorite people to learn about, especially since two men, [James] Watson and [Francis] Crick, took credit for her work.”
Women deserve recognition, Woods said, especially those who inspire people daily.
“If it weren't for all of the women in my life, I wouldn't be the woman I am today,” Woods said. “These women, who have beat the odds and become extremely successful, especially in male-dominated fields, are my number one inspiration.”
Despite the increasing support for the women’s rights movement, Woods said America still has progress to be made in regard to gender equality.
“I don't think I know one woman that has not been discriminated against, harassed or assaulted in my life,” Woods said. “Women are treated differently, and it's very evident.”
University studies senior Mack Towers said she has been surrounded by strong women throughout her life.
“I was raised around mostly women due to having three sisters,” Towers said. “I also have been taught by women both during my education and training in my job field, which has made me into the strong-willed woman I am.”
Growing up, Towers said the gender inequality she experienced was dismissed.
“‘Boys will be boys’ is a saying that honestly haunts me because it allows young women to think that if a boy is abusing her in any fashion, it’s just how he shows affection,” Towers said. “This has led to so many women staying with their abusers.”
Although significant progress toward equal treatment has been made, Towers said there is still work left to do.
“I have seen the world change for the better in terms of discrimination, but personally, I am not happy with the way that women are currently being treated as if we aren’t allowed to have opinions about our own bodies,” Towers said.
Mechanical engineering professor Astrid Layton, Ph.D., said International Women’s Day promotes knowledge about both the women who have made history and those who will make it.
“It’s a time when I’m reminded to reflect on all the opportunities I have because of the women who came before me and the many women who are still working hard now,” Layton said.
In addition to well-known individuals like Gloria Steinem, Susan B. Anthony, and Alice Walker, who have taken action to advocate for women around the world, Layton said the women who are closest to her continue to inspire her the most.
“Everyone from my female family members and friends to my colleagues and mentors, even my students, have made a lasting impression,” Layton said. “These are the women who motivate, advocate and support me every day. I am inspired by them all.”