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Reflections on International Women's Day 2024

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International Women's Day hands raising up in celebration

Our student staff member reflects on our International Women's Day event:


How did International Women’s Day 2024 inspire our students to consider social justice and change?

As a feminist writer and Creative writing Master's student at the University of Brighton, I was delighted to collaborate with the Brighton Students’ Union as a campaigner for International Women’s Day this year. On the 8th of March Students were invited to the BSU International Women’s Day event, which encouraged them to voice their opinions and motivations on Intersectionality and feminism. Students took to the mic to contemplate the difficulties faced as women encounter prejudice due to ethnicity and disability. They discussed how they prevailed with hope and pride for their capabilities and achievements. Students were also encouraged to write answers to the following questions as seen below, and the outcome was the biggest fist pump we needed. 

When asked about students' personal experiences and what motivates change for women, students used their pasts to build a brighter future for themselves, and others. One answer that particularly struck me was, ‘I have heard people say a woman should not date to be great because she would just end up being a wife & mother. The fact that I can beat that school of thought and become a career-driven pharmacist has sparked a very bright light in me. Women should be encouraged to dream big’. This student is passing on advice once given to them, and as a writer, I think reproducing what motivates us as a tool to motivate others, truly shows the process of communicative support. Another answer that stuck with me was, ’It’s okay to be persistent on what you want. You are not annoying, you are determined!’. Approaching activism can be daunting, and is generally stigmatised by some parts of society. I, myself, have experienced an eye roll or two when speaking on the pressures women face and found this comment to be a nudge in the right direction. I think a big part of protesting is reminding others that they have the right to help louden voices that have been quietened for so long. 

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day was ‘Inspire Inclusivity’. It is important to remember women struggle globally and International Women’s Day is a celebration of a diverse range of women from different walks of life. One student proclaimed, ‘Feminism isn’t just about equality, it’s about accepting and hearing diverse voices’. I think feminism can sometimes feel too gendered and sexualised; too much about men ironically! As amazing as it is to ignite with your female friends for change in the gap between men and women, we need to remove the personal and remember how all over the globe women fighting for rights; some just to go to school! It shouldn’t only be the women with the most power who get to rise up, it's about giving less fortunate women a platform. Now, when I was coming up with these questions, the key aim was to consider how we can break down barriers for women and inspire inclusivity. One student beautifully wrote, ‘ Empower people to speak out by creating safer environments’. A person cannot possibly feel obliged to voice their experiences of inequality if they do not feel they have a place to, and even though we have women’s centres and helplines, many still face their problems alone. I think women need to be offered any opportunity regularly to empower and support one another, and I was so glad when the Students’ Union took this motivation on board with this event!

International Women’s Day sparked student's enthusiasm to create an encouraging message for their peers. A message to remember for life, not just one day. People were reminded to ‘love yourself’ and, ‘continue to embrace who you are’. That ‘our differences bring us together. Be unique’. And that, ‘You are beautiful inside and out, no one can change that’. One person commented, ‘ Wear sweatpants on a night out. You're there to have fun, might as well be comfy’. One post-it-note now exists as a reminder to students that you should, ‘Enjoy life and dance’. After reading these, I was completely moved by the support we have for each other’s self-esteem. I think the overriding outcome from these responses suggests that women need to try their absolute best to ignore the bullying and discrimination they face and remember they are not any lesser than anyone else because of their gender or race.

Ultimately, we need to use our determination to create compassion with ourselves and others and use this energy to create more celebrations and safe spaces for women, like the open mic at the Students’ Union this year, on International Women’s Day. My aims for this event were to create an open space for people to inspire women and inclusivity and understand more about what the students of Brighton University think can be done to evolve a more positive, diverse, and equal future for everyone. I am over the moon with how many students responded to the questions, and can confidently say that the people at this event learned a little more about enforcing action for justice and I hope after reading some of their words here, you can too!


Emily MacBean (Creative Writing, MA)