My sisters: this is for you.
This is for each of you, my sisters.
This is for every woman who suffered at the hands of a universal patriarchal culture.
Today is for every woman who ever had to disguise herself as a man when feeling unsafe; for every woman who ever wore an oversized hoodie and sweats and pulled the hood over her head to feel less unsafe while walking through a dark street or running to the nearest 7-Eleven at 2 a.m. for a gallon of milk.
Today is for every woman who was denied a job opportunity despite her qualifications and watched it fall into the hands of a man instead, because he was a good face for the company, or because he was proud and society helped him build his confidence, or because his voice was louder, or simply because this was a “man’s field.”
Today is for every woman who ever felt “not good enough” and experienced confidence lows, because every CEO around her and every president and every principal was a man and every highest position was occupied by a man.
Today is for every woman who was told that STEM education wasn’t a “woman’s field,” but home economics and literature and learning all the love languages certainly are. Today is for every woman who was told that her value is in the man she marries.
Today is for every woman who was discouraged and even prevented from joining the public sphere.
Today is for every woman who was told she’s “too emotional” to lead, and for every woman who was told she’s “bossy” because she decided to take lead.
Today is for every woman who was expected to be gentle and pretty, before being an athlete or a lawyer or a doctor or a politician.
Today is for every woman who was shamed for not having perfect eyebrows or a flawless body or nails meticulously filed or hair that flows perfectly.
Today is for every woman who was told it’s her fault she was sexually violated; that it’s her fault, not her violator’s fault.
Today is for every woman who endured physical, emotional, sexual, verbal, mental, and financial abuse because she couldn’t break the cycle, because she was not in a position to walk out, or because she feared the stigma attached to divorcees, or because she knew she couldn’t win.
Today is for every woman who ever felt powerless when propped up against a man.
Today is for every woman who was shunned for not bearing children, or for not bearing a strong and healthy son.
Today is for every woman who remained strong and rose above despite being born into a patriarchal world.
Today is for my grandmothers, Sayyeda Khadijah, who was one of the most successful and powerful businesswomen of her tribe; for Sayyeda Nusaibah, who fought battles and defended the Prophet using her own body; for Sayyeda Aisha, who narrated Hadith and spoke before men and fed them her knowledge; for Sayyeda Maryam, who raised one of God’s most beloved creation despite being alone.
Today is for the women who work, study, cook, clean, bear and raise children, advocate, support, and love — and are not recognized.
Written by Dina Sayedahmed
Image from ILWU Canada