Arabic Language Blog

International Women’s Day: Gaining Momentum Posted by on Mar 7, 2013 in Culture

Marhaba (مرحبا) ! Today, I would like to say congratulations (تهاني) to every woman (إمرأة) on the glorious (مجيد) occasion of ‘International Women’s Day (IWD)’ (اليوم العالمي للمرأة). Every year on March 8, women from the around the globe celebrate this day by taking stock of the different social (اجتماعية), political (سياسية) and economic (اقتصادية) achievements (الإنجازات) made since 1909. Some historians even trace this holiday back to 1857, when a group of female workers in the textile (نسيج) industry decided to collectively stage a protest (احتجاج) in New York City against devastating working conditions (ظروف العمل السيئة) and low wages.

International Women’s Day originally began as a Socialist (إشتراكي) political event, largely involving countries from Eastern Europe. In fact, IWD was first observed on February 28, 1909 in the United States of America following a historic declaration by the Socialist Party of America. More importantly, in 1977, the UN officially recognized IWD as a day for women’s rights (حقوق المرأة) and world peace (السلام العالمي). Like other UN Holidays, the United Nations designates International Women’s Day as a day of social and political awareness (وعي) that introduces every human being to the constant struggles of women at home, the workplace or in society at large.

Every year the UN celebrates IWD based on a certain theme. For 2013, the UN theme for IWD is ‘a promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women.’ (الوعد هو الوعد: الوقت للعمل من أجل إنهاء العنف ضد المرأة). In turn, the IWD have their own yearly theme and for 2013 it is: The Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum. Due to the extreme importance of IWD, in some countries, such as Armenia, Cambodia, Cuba, Georgia, Russia and others, IWD is an official public holiday (إجازة عامة). While in other countries, like Romania, Serbia and others, IWD is not a public holiday.


Countries in the Middle East and North Africa are no exception to honoring and celebrating International Women’s Day. From Egypt to Saudi Arabia to Lebanon and Afghanistan, many women make use of this holiday and other days throughout the year to voice their dissatisfaction with political and social systems that deny (تنكر) them their basic human rights.


Since 2011 with the advent of the Arab uprisings (الانتفاضات العربية) and many years before these momentous changes that swept across the Middle East and North Africa, women in the Arab world are struggling to shake the foundations of archaic patriarchal systems that segregate (تفصل) men and women in public places and provide unequal treatment to women in their workplaces, judicial and religious courts (المحاكم الدينية), and at home. Women feel as if they are being treated as second class citizens and are collectively voicing their concerns by staging protests throughout different Arab cities.

Regardless of their different cultural, social or religious backgrounds, all women around the world gather to remember and recognize their struggles across the years in achieving their equal social and political rights. They know that their path to achieving their goals is an uneasy one and will undoubtedly face several hurdles. Nevertheless, their resilience and determination will allow them to persevere and one day achieve what they have been fighting to gain since a very long time. In a nutshell, the struggle is about achieving basic and equal human rights. It is not a dream and should not be perceived as one. Starting with my wife, I ask every lady following this blog to inform and remind both her male and female friends of this important day through dedicating some time to discuss, read more or learn more about the different and noble struggles of women across the years.

To all the women activists since the turn of the 19th century and way before, I salute you (أحيّيكم)…

Stay tuned for upcoming posts.

Have a nice day!

نهاركم سعيد

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About the Author: jesa

Salam everyone! Born as an American to two originally Arab parents, I have been raised and have spent most of my life in Beirut, Lebanon. I have lived my good times and my bad times in Beirut. I was but a young child when I had to learn to share my toys and food with others as we hid from bombs and fighting during the Lebanese Civil War. I feel my connection to Arabic as both a language and culture is severing and so it is with you, my readers and fellow Arabic lovers, and through you that I wish to reestablish this connection by creating one for you.


  1. Stephanie:

    How have women achieved more in Arab Society? How have things changed for them in Arab culture?