International Women’s Day is celebrated on the 8th March each year, to honour women who have fought or have been pioneers in their field, which made it easy for us, as 21st century women to be able to thrive.

The theme of this year: Choose to Challenge, must resonate with each one us, irrespective of our gender, class, age and race. Choosing to challenge what holds us back has long been followed by people of the past and the present.

Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell first woman to receive a medical degree in America, back in the 19th Century.

Wangari Muaathai, first Central African woman to earn a Doctorate degree

Benazir Bhutto first woman to hold office as a Prime Minister of an Islamic Country

Malala Yousafzai, a 11-year-old schoolgirl challenged the Taliban’s dictum of shutting down girls’ schools

Kiran Bedi, first female IPS officer of India, started her service in 1972

Karuna Maleshwari, Sani Mirza, PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Geeta Phogat and more..

These women are just few of the many who have challenged the system, stereotype or rules to make it inclusive for the future generations to come!

In the words of US Vice President Kamala Harris “My mother always said: Kamala you may be the first to do many things, but make sure you’re not the last”

Fun Fact: Did you know Kamala Harris is the first highest ranking female to hold office in 243 years of American History!

In the past, women faced challenges of finding a voice, or basic rights or freedom, etc. which unfortunately is still existent in many parts of the world. On the other hand, we see women breaking barriers, shattering the glass ceiling and reaching heights that have been thought to be impossible.

If a trendline was drawn for the challenges women face in the world we live in, in the last couple centuries – it would be a steady line, that moves further high up with changing times

Women lack positions of power, Patriarchy, Sexism, Racism, Economic inequality, Access to Equal opportunities, Lack of Respect, Navigating motherhood and Career, Access to quality healthcare, Safety are few of the many issues that are grippling the women of today.

On a day when Swati Mohan, a scientist from NASA is celebrated for her contribution to NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover, we also hear a news where a father beheaded his 17-year-old daughter in the name of honour killing!

Is this a case of moving forward and backwards at the same time?

We live in a time where activists, world leaders, politicians, citizens, everyone are fighting towards bringing equality for us all, what can we do? We can pledge to be strong, deterrent, and fight for what we believe in day in and day out, even if it involves breaking barriers, changing customs traditions and the mindset!

“It takes years as a woman to unlearn what you have been taught to be sorry about”- Amy Poehler

If you are a female, male or any labelled individual, so on this day, what do you choose to challenge?

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