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International Women’s Day 2019


In honour of International Women's Day (8th March) read four short pieces by Gina Heathcote, Sandra Fredman, Lisa McIntosh Sundstrom, and Valerie Sperling, reflecting on the importance of IWD and gender injustice, and take a look at our Women in Law timeline.


International Women's Day: Who is She?

Gina Heathcote, SOAS University of London

International Women’s Day is for every gendered and ungendered human, a remembering and forgetting, a holding, an embodying, a denial and a withdrawal, a celebration and an acknowledgement: of the binary, the continuum, the performance, of violence, many violences, symbolic and structural, every day, macro and micro, legal and illegal, many ways of speaking, ways of being, ways of existing, ways of building and belonging, and of knowing: institutions, information, space, relationships, cultures, societies, technologies, politics, communities, borders, exclusions and inclusions, together and alone. The origins of International Women's Day rest in feminist protest - against labour discrimination, in pursuit of suffrage and in campaigns for peace. International Law, today, holds many tools, from CEDAW to Security Council resolution 1325, to guarantee rights for women and yet we know that gender remains a site of multiple, intersecting oppressions globally.

IWD asks us all to ponder what the term 'women / woman' holds, what it discards, where it harms, where it silences, who it empowers, what it constructs and who it leaves behind. IWD asks us to remember the transformative power of feminist protest as a means to change international law for the better, to remember the Women's Peace Congress of 1915 and to listen to transnational feminist organisers across communities to articulate new sites of legal change. Humans need International Women’s Day because gender is a prolific, intersectional, diverse, varied and consistent organising structure. A day to both remember and forget all that gender imposes on our lives: through law and outside of law; a day to embrace our trans-sisters and trans-brothers, our gender-queer and our gender non-binary selves. She is gender variant. She is earth, matter and non-matter, legal subject, split and plural, individual and many, unmaking the normativity of ableism. She is you, present, absent, queer, trans, ungendered and simultaneously gendered too.

Gina Heathcote is a Reader in Gender Studies and International Law at SOAS University of London, and the author of Feminist Dialogues on International Law: Success, Tensions, Futures.


Reflecting on Gender Justice

Gina Heathcote, Sandra Fredman, Lisa McIntosh Sundstrom, and Valerie Sperling each reflect on the representation of women in law, the progression of women’s legal rights, and the gender imbalances still hindering access to justice today in this OUP blog post.


Women in Law Timeline

Explore our timeline featuring pioneering women and milestones in legal rights for women from 1800s to the present day. You can also read our related post on the OUP blog.