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Graphic by Reyam Jamaleddine

International Women’s Day 2024: The powerful voice of women 

By Reyam Jamaleddine, March 8 2024— 

International Women’s Day marks the triumph and perseverance of all women across the world and throughout history. This day celebrates the cultural, political, economic and social achievements of women. The marking of this day assumes not only the legacy of historical policy change makers or legendary activists but also accounts for women like myself and readers who identify as women. 

Below are key voices in my life that have shaped my perception and formed my ideology surrounding women’s rights, women’s voices and activism for human rights for women — feminism. I need to address that fighting for human rights is not synonymous with fighting for women’s human rights. For this reason, it is vital for everyone to identify as feminists because there is a large portion of people on this earth who still don’t categorize women as human beings and for this reason, don’t deserve human rights. 

Below are the voices of women who have stamped their intricate, elaborate and excelling ideas into my life. This is not an overwhelming list of all the women whom the world must turn their attention to, rather it is the list of women I have personally curated. I recommend that for this year’s International Women’s Day or International Women’s History Month, you take some time to find new authors, poets, speakers and artists who shape and fight for a better world for all of us every day. 

Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution by Mona Eltahaway

Eltahaway is an Egyptian Feminist Giant as she dubs herself. She is a world-renowned journalist who has continually sparked controversy and outrage for her thought-provoking op-eds on women’s rights and feminist ideology. Her book Head Scarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution is the first feminist literature I read in high school. This book explores the oppression that women face in the Middle East and North African (MENA) region, it calls for a revolution in the matrix of culture. This book is an amazing eye-opener for many sensitive topics that are typically pushed under the rug. 

The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls by Mona Eltahaway

In this book, Eltahaway calls for women to follow the seven necessary sins which are: anger, attention, profanity, ambition, power, violence and lust. This feminist manifesto calls on all women and girls to seek power even by employing disruption and being obnoxious in the face of the ridicule of women. This book calls again for women to revolt against oppressive regimes across the globe. 

Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head by Warsan Shire

My personal favourite collection of poems — Shire is a Somali-British writer and poet who writes the tale of the diaspora and immigration. Her collection of poems addresses the loneliness of the daughter of diaspora, one who was raised by a voice in her head. She addresses themes of war, loss of home and the tragedy of being a refugee. Her collection of poems details the life of young girls and women who faced the same struggles as she herself did. 

The Digital Sisterhood

The Digital Sisterhood began as a Black Muslim woman-run podcast that featured storytelling from the lens of the Muslim woman. What began as a podcast administered by a group of women who aimed to create a community for Muslim women is now an entire initiative that garners the support of hundreds of thousands of individuals across the globe. This podcast shares the stories of Muslim women and intends to provide thought-provoking tales regarding mental health, Muslim struggle and certain subjects that affect women as a whole. The podcast continuously addresses the harmful stereotypes that are projected onto Muslim women and successfully tackles the brutal impositions that Muslim women face. 

Postcolonial Banter by Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan

Postcolonial Banter is Manzoor-Khan’s debut collection of poetry. This collection features tales and calls for action regarding her experiences in the United Kingdom as a Muslim, Hijabi woman. This collection sparks insights into matters of racism, Islamophobia, and xenophobia. Her poetry is political and complex yet she provides explanations for her intricate words which allow for accessibility in an already close-knit poetry community. 

Revolt Against the Sun by Nazik Al-Malaikah

Al-Malaikah is an Iraqi poet who remains a pioneer of modern Arab Modernism. In this selection of poems in the translation by Emily Drumsta, offers insights into the political and social realities of the Arab world following the Second World War. This collection of poems displays the triumph of one woman’s ability to landscape modern Arab literature and culture in the twentieth century. 

The Hidden Face of Eve by Nawal El Saadawi

This non-fiction account conveys the oppression of women in the Middle East and North African (MENA) region. El Saadawi narrates her experiences as a doctor in Egypt who was consistently in the face of young girls and women who underwent prostitution, honour killings, sexual abuse as well as genital mutilation. Female circumcision drove El Saadawi to give a voice in the face of this suffering, a voice that shook the Arab world. The arguments and discussions written in this book remain true to this day as they did almost half a century ago. 

Hijab Butch Blues by Lamya H

Hijab Butch Blues is a memoir that follows the narration of Lamya H. This narration discusses Lamya’s arrival in the US and her ever-encompassing struggle between herself, her religion and her queerness. The essays that create this memoir follow Lamya’s connection between being queer and Islam followed by the overarching discussion of being the architect of one’s own life. 

Shamsa Araweelo

Araweelo is a Somali-British activist who is an advocate against the act of female genital cutting. She sparked attention for the serious subject on her TikTok page where she shared and voiced her own experiences with the practice. She continuously remains an activist through her founding of the Garden of Peace. 

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

This fiction novel written by Afghan author Hosseini (not a woman, but authored a great book about women) takes place amid civil unrest in Afghanistan. The novel follows the characters Mariam and Laila, both who were young girls who faced the backlash and oppression of the unrest. The suffering that the women went through in this fiction novel bears the truths that women face in worn-tore places every day. This is a heartbreaking yet spectacular rendition which conveys the perseverance and triumph of women who are in horrifically oppressive circumstances. 

Girls that Invest 

Girls that Invest is a podcast that was initiated by Simran Kaur. This podcast has now turned into a top charting book as well as a master class for women. Girls that Invest offers accessible and friendly spaces for women to learn about investing as well as have support from other women to enter the world of stocks and investing. 

As an overarching message, I wish for all the women reading this to recognize, admire and commend their successes in the face of oppression, adversity and gender inequality.

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