How activists across Asia and the Pacific marked International Women’s Day

Credit: Fiji Women's Rights Movement

Credit: Fiji Women's Rights Movement

Credit: Fiji Women's Rights Movement

Credit: Fiji Women's Rights Movement

International Women’s Day.

It can mean different things to different people - whether that’s a morning tea at the office, a personal acknowledgment of the women in your life or a reminder to support a local, women-focused organisation.

For feminists and women’s rights activists across the world, IWD is a time to join voices and make our message for equal rights loud and clear – “Women’s rights are human rights!”

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day was ‘Invest in Women. Accelerate Progress.’ It is based on the United Nations’ 68th Commission on the Status of Women priority theme ‘Accelerating the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing with a gender perspective’. This year’s theme was all about highlighting the importance of investing in solutions that empower women to achieve truly transformative change.

Here’s how some of the organisations that IWDA partners with across Asia and the Pacific marked this year’s International Women’s Day, celebrating how far we’ve come towards gender equality and shining a light on how far we have left to go.

Cambodia

To mark International Women’s Day, Gender and Development for Cambodia (GADC) spent 8 March at Freedom Park in Phnom Penh. Under the theme ‘Ensuring the rights and freedom of women and girls for economic stability and social justice’, GADC ran a stall where they engaged with community members and shared the work they do to further gender equality in the country.

This was accompanied by advocacy on their social media platforms to educate the public about the significance of IWD and add their voice to feminists’ and women’s rights advocates’ global call to action for gender equality.

Credit: Gender and Development for Cambodia

Credit: Gender and Development for Cambodia

Credit: Gender and Development for Cambodia

Credit: Gender and Development for Cambodia

Credit: Gender and Development for Cambodia

Credit: Gender and Development for Cambodia

Credit: Gender and Development for Cambodia

Credit: Gender and Development for Cambodia

Credit: Gender and Development for Cambodia

Credit: Gender and Development for Cambodia

Credit: Gender and Development for Cambodia

Credit: Gender and Development for Cambodia

In the lead-up to the day, GADC alongside Women Peace Makers partnered with local artists to produce the song and performance art piece, "She”. In the artists’ own words, this is the message behind the piece:

Listen to the tale of her journey and how she found herself in the name of her artistry.

Explore the back story of how she healed her wounds all by her own.

Open your heart and accept that perfection is unattainable.

Allow yourself to believe that you can't always be strong, but you are the strongest once you accept that you can be weak.

“SHE” more than a pronoun, a compass for your inner journey.

Credit: Setsochhata Sin - ស៊ីន សេដ្ឋសុជ្ឈតា

Credit: Setsochhata Sin - ស៊ីន សេដ្ឋសុជ្ឈតា

You can watch the powerful performance art piece here.

GADC rounded up their IWD activities by taking part in a number of radio shows highlighting women’s engagement in public life in Cambodia. On 7 March, GADC’s Advocacy Program Officer Ms Ngon Sievmy took part in an episode of the radio program ‘Break the Silence’ exploring the topic of young women’s leadership in the country’s current political context. The organisation's Head of Advocacy Program Ms. Sonva Phoungvina took part in a special IWD program hosted by Women’s Radio on the topic of women and leadership in the digital era.

To mark IWD, the staff of Rainbow Community Kampuchea (ROCK) came together to share their messages of support to their community via their social media channels. These messages included advocating for more opportunities for women, celebrating the women that give them strength and the importance of backing up calls for equality with action. You can find some of their messages in Khmer below.

Credit: Rainbow Community Kampuchea

Credit: Rainbow Community Kampuchea

"ក្រុម និងគ្រួសារ ដែលទន់ភ្លន់ និងរឹងមាំ

Credit: Rainbow Community Kampuchea

Credit: Rainbow Community Kampuchea

«មានស្ត្រី មានអ្វីៗគ្រប់យ៉ាង»

Credit: Rainbow Community Kampuchea

Credit: Rainbow Community Kampuchea

«សូមបន្តបង្កើតនិងផ្តល់ឱកាសក៏ដូចជាការជ្រោមជ្រែងដល់ស្ត្រីដែលមានភាពចម្រុះប្រកបដោយសមភាពនិងសមធម៌ ជាប្រព័ន្ធនិងជាប្រចាំ រួមផ្សំនឹងការប្រឹងប្រែងឱ្យអស់ពីសមត្ថភាពនិងលទ្ធភាពរបស់ខ្លួនផ្ទាល់។ ការណ៍នេះអាចជួយស្ត្រីបង្កើនសក្តានុពលកាន់តែខ្លាំង ដែលជាធនធានដ៏មានតម្លៃរបស់គ្រួសារ សហគមន៍ និងសង្គមជាតិ»

Credit: Rainbow Community Kampuchea

Credit: Rainbow Community Kampuchea

ពីក្រោយភាពរឹងមាំរបស់ខ្ញុំរាល់ថ្ងៃ គឺមានថាមពលនៃក្តីស្រឡាញ់ដ៏អសា្ចរ្យដែលខ្ញុំបានទទួលពីស្រី្តម្នាក់ គឺ «ម៉ែ»

Credit: Rainbow Community Kampuchea

Credit: Rainbow Community Kampuchea

«ការឱ្យតម្លៃគ្នា វាពិតជាមានសារសំខាន់ណាស់ ព្រោះយើងមានសិទ្ធិស្មើគ្នា មិនថាយើងមានភេទកំណើតជាអ្វី មានអត្តសញ្ញាណជាអ្វី ហើយមានឋានៈជាអ្វីនោះទេ ជាពិសេសយើងមានសមត្ថភាពផ្សេងៗគ្នា អាចជួយដល់សង្គមបានដូចគ្នា ។ អ៊ីចឹង យើងមិនត្រូវមាក់ងាយ រើសអើង ឬមិនឲ្យតម្លៃគ្នានោះទេ»

Credit: Rainbow Community Kampuchea

Credit: Rainbow Community Kampuchea

«សួនដែលស្រស់ស្អាត គឺជាសួនដែលមានបុប្ផាចម្រុះពណ៌ ចម្រុះក្លិន ចម្រុះទង។ ប្រៀបដូចសង្គមដែលស្រស់ស្អាត ពោរពេញដោយចម្រុះភាព ចម្រុះពណ៌ហើយអាចចែករំលែកក្ដីស្រឡាញ់ ផ្ដល់ឱកាសឱ្យកោសិកាសង្គម បានរីកលូតលាស់ ទៅតាម ចំណេះ ជំនាញ សមត្ថភាព ឆ្ពោះទៅការរស់នៅប្រកបដោយសុខមាលភាព និងមានគុណភាពជីវិត»

Credit: Rainbow Community Kampuchea

Credit: Rainbow Community Kampuchea

«ការផ្ដើមចេញពីទង្វើ ការប្រព្រឹត្ត ការចិញ្ចឹមបីបាច់ ចំពោះ ក្មេងស្រី/ក្មេងប្រុស ស្ត្រី/បុរស ប្រកបដោយសមធម៌ ក្នុងភាពជាមនុស្ស ដោយមិនគិត ពី ភេទ អត្តសញ្ញាណយេនឌ័រ ទំនោរភេទ សមត្ថភាព ជាតិសាសន៍ សាសនា ឬ ឋានៈសង្គមដោយចាប់ផ្ដើមពីខ្លួនឯង ក្នុងរង្វង់ក្រុមគ្រួសារ និង ឈានទៅដល់សហគមន៍យើងទាំងមូល។នោះពួកយើងទាំងអស់គ្នានឹងអាច រស់នៅភាពពិតជាយើង រស់នៅពោរពេញដោយសក្ដានុពលខ្លួនឯង មានសុភមង្គល និង មានគុណភាពជីវិតក្នុងការចូលរួមលើកស្ទួយ សេដ្ឋកិច្ចគ្រួសារ វប្បធម៌ និង អាចជួយលើកស្ទួយសុខុមាលសង្គមរបស់ពួកយើងកាន់តែប្រសើរឡើង»

Fiji

Fiji Women’s Rights Movement held their fifth ‘If Women Stop, the World Stops’ concert held in Suva. The concert highlighted the way in which unpaid care work perpetuates and exacerbates gender inequality and discrimination – acting as a symbolic strike action for the organisation and their partners in the region.

The free concert offered a platform for representatives of women’s rights and human rights groups in Fiji to call for the recognition of unpaid care work, the elimination of violence against women and girls and the protection of marginalised groups in their communities. For the time of the concert, the hall became a space where FWRM’s community could come together, share their lived realities and experiences all while having the chance to sit back, enjoy music and take a day off from the everyday ‘work’ of being a woman.

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Credit: Fiji Women's Rights Movement

Credit: Fiji Women's Rights Movement

Credit: Fiji Women's Rights Movement

Credit: Fiji Women's Rights Movement

Credit: Fiji Women's Rights Movement

Credit: Fiji Women's Rights Movement

Credit: Fiji Women's Rights Movement

Credit: Fiji Women's Rights Movement

Speaking at the event, FWRM’s Executive Director Nalini Singh underlined the true cost of unpaid care and domestic work for women and girls:  

“While all the men are at important village and communal meetings, the women are at home taking care of the children, cooking, washing, looking after the elderly and having no input into discussions and decisions that will impact their own livelihoods.”

For her first IWD as Executive Director of femLINKPacific, Fay Volatabu shared a special message of support to their community on social media.

In addition to celebrating the strong women breaking barriers for a more equitable world, she highlighted the importance of going beyond recognition in championing true gender equality – calling for gender-responsive curriculums, policies and laws in Fiji alongside more equality for women in terms of opportunities, treatment and education. Hear Fay Volatabu’s message through here.

Credit: femLINKpacific

Credit: femLINKpacific

Samoa

For their celebrations, Brown Girl Woke hosted a Youth Climate Leaders event with the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson. The event brought together passionate local youth representations of various organisations working in the climate space in Samoa to share their projects, goals and dreams for climate justice in Samoa and the Pacific. As part of the event, young climate leaders were invited to share with the Duchess their thoughts on the prompt, “If the world granted my island one wish in my lifetime, mine could be…”. You can watch their inspiring responses here.

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Credit: Brown Girl Woke

Credit: Brown Girl Woke

Credit: Brown Girl Woke

Credit: Brown Girl Woke

Credit: Brown Girl Woke

Credit: Brown Girl Woke

Credit: Brown Girl Woke

Credit: Brown Girl Woke

Credit: Brown Girl Woke

Credit: Brown Girl Woke

Credit: Brown Girl Woke

Credit: Brown Girl Woke

Solomon Islands

Over in Honiara, Women’s Rights Action Movement, West ‘Are’Are Rokotanikeni Association and Family Support Centre took part in the city’s annual International Women’s Day celebrations. This involved meeting with community members and sharing information about their work to address gender-based violence before taking part in a parade through the streets of Honiara alongside other women’s rights organisations.