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“Six Days”- International Women’s Day Film Screening

By Chandra Allen

Around the world, March 8th is recognized as International Women’s Day.  This is a day to acknowledge and celebrate both the work of women and the work for women’s equality all over the world.  As we celebrate the progress that women have made in many sectors, it is also crucial to recognize that there is an ongoing struggle to attain full equality for women, equality for all of us.  International Women’s Day, then, is also a day to acknowledge where progress still needs to be made to achieve equality for women.

The history of International Women’s Day dates back to the early 20th century.[i]  In 1909, over 15,000 women marched in New York City and were determined to highlight the unequal treatment of women working in the garment industry.  The marchers insisted on higher wages, shorter hours, and the right to vote.  Over the next few years, more demonstrations, rallies, and conferences for women’s rights and equality were happening in Denmark, Austria, Germany, Switzerland and the United States. The first official International Women’s Day was celebrated on March 19, 1911 as one of the outcomes of the Socialist International Women’s Conference held in Copenhagen, Denmark the year prior.   The conference intended to build global support to promote the equal treatment of women in the workplace, the need for universal suffrage for women, and the importance of peace.   As women around the world were protesting for peace in the wake of World War I, the observance of International Women’s Day moved to March 8 in 1913 and 1914.

Over the years, International Women’s Day has become a recognized platform for advancing the rights of women on a global scale.  Today, International Women’s Day is used to raise awareness about a broad range of women’s issues.  It is one of many opportunities to highlight the powerful work being done by women and men around the globe in political, economic, and social sectors to realize the equality of women. [ii]

2015 is a milestone celebration, because it marks the twentieth anniversary of the 4th World Conference for Women in Beijing.  It was here that the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was signed by 189 governments.  The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action is seen as one of the best proposals for advancing women’s equality worldwide, as it acknowledges that the fight for women’s rights is the fight for human rights.  Advancement for women means advancement for all of us. The Declaration highlighted twelve areas of concern including poverty, access to education, access to healthcare, violence against women, the effect of armed conflict on women, and economic inequality and access to resources.[iii]  This year, International Women’s Day is a day of celebration for all the progress that has been made, and a call to action – that we put even more effort and resources in to actualizing the goals in the Beijing Declaration.  One of the themes this year highlights that call to action: “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality.”

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At Scarritt-Bennett Center, one of our core values is empowerment of women. From our founding as a training school to educate women missionaries, to the groundbreaking work of the students at Scarritt College on issues of social justice and women’s rights, to our current work in tackling a broad range of women’s issues, we lift up the significant work being done by women to empower themselves and their communities. We know that the work of advancing women’s rights, human rights, is happening every day – around the world and in our own community. We know that everyday women and men are risking their lives to empower themselves and their communities. This important work goes on every day, whether it is International Women’s Day or not. Too many times those who are working for equality and justice are not celebrated, but rather seen as enemies by their communities and governments and are threatened, injured, and/or killed.

On Saturday, March 14 at 2pm, Scarritt-Bennett will host its annual International Women’s Day Film Screening. We will gather in honor of the countless women who are making a difference in their communities. We celebrate women around the world who are overcoming barriers and other obstacles to claim a voice in their communities thereby empowering themselves and others. This film screening intends to focus on issues women in the global community face as well as highlight how they are becoming agents of change.

This year we will be screening “Six Days: Three Activists, Three Wars, One Dream.” This inspiring documentary, which follows three brave human rights defenders in Liberia, Abkhazia, Georgia and Iraq over six days, gives insight into the everyday struggle to improve the situation of women worldwide. SIX DAYS shines a necessary light on some of the most urgent and important human rights issues facing women today: girls’ education, honor killings, bride kidnappings and women’s health issues.

Giving refuge and voice to women beaten, burned and threatened with death by their families, journalist Lanja, fearlessly challenges honor killings and domestic violence in Iraq’s Kurdish region. Nelly runs a cooperative and shelter in Monrovia, Liberia’s slums so that impoverished women can learn to read and earn money for their families. And in the breakaway republic of Abkhazia, Georgia, Maia, director of a women’s health group fighting for women’s sexual rights, brings medical care to women and girls in remote Caucasus villages while battling “bride kidnappings” and other archaic customs that lead to forced marriage.

As it follows these three remarkable women, thousands of miles apart, SIX DAYS bears witness to their unwavering, shared commitment to women’s education, empowerment and dreams of a better life. This is an important film for those who wish to understand the challenges facing women in developing countries around the world and how feminism continues to help improve women’s’ lives.
After the film, there will be a panel and audience discussion about the movie’s key issues and themes. Our panelists will be:
Kasar Abdulla (Director of Community Relations at Valor Collegiate Academy, social justice educator, organizer)
Dr. Carolyn Audet (Assistant Professor, Department of Health Policy, Vanderbilt University)
Sophie Bjork-James (Post-doctoral fellow and lecturer, Department of Anthropology at Vanderbilt University)
Jamie Shenton (Lecturer and Interim Associate Director of Women’s and Gender Studies at Vanderbilt University)

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we acknowledge that the work for women’s rights is crucial work. When women thrive, we all thrive. Join us on Saturday, March 14 as we celebrate the amazing work of women around the world. Come and learn more about the issues facing women in the global community and ways to get involved. General admission tickets are $10 and student/ senior adult tickets are $5. To learn more and register click here.

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Chandra Allen is a native Nashvillian. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in German from Davidson College in North Carolina and a Master’s of Divinity from Vanderbilt Divinity School. She is currently an Assistant Director of Education, Programs and Connections at Scarritt Bennett Center where she plans programs focused on women’s leadership and women’s empowerment. Chandra is passionate about creating an authentic environment where women and men gather to explore and awaken the strength of their voices, experiences and creativity to effect positive change in their communities and themselves. Contact Chandra at callen@scarrittbennett.org.