The first ever National Women’s Day was held on February 28, 1909 in New York City and has since been celebrated by women in almost every country in the world. This year’s International Women’s Day will be celebrated on Friday, March 8, the last day before Riverdale’s March Exams and spring break. Despite occurring at a busy time of year, many students are preparing for a full day of celebrations. The celebrations come as Riverdale has experienced a growth in the number of on-campus clubs and organizations focused on feminism and women in recent years. A newly formed feminist coalition will also be integral to the day’s success, bringing energy to a month of celebration so important to many members of the Riverdale community.
Community Engagement Team Director Dwight Vidale, while not directly part of the planning process, spoke about the planning for International Women’s Day, explaining, “we have some students who are currently planning International Women's day…Unfortunately, here at Riverdale, because of the way our schedule is, we just aren’t here in March [due to March Exams, and Spring Break].” Because of this tight schedule, there isn't a lot of time that students are on campus in March to celebrate International Women’s Month, but with the time available, Ellie Pfeffer and Cece King are two seniors who are hoping to spearhead the conversation surrounding gender and gender expression at Riverdale.
King spoke about why she and Pfeffer wanted to plan International Women's Day this year, remarking, “with Ellie, I lead one of Riverdale's intersectional feminist clubs called Seneca Women. Last year, Seneca leaders created the Riverdale Feminist Coalition, a group that harnesses the individual potential of all of Riverdale's feminist clubs and independent feminist leaders. International Women's Day is exactly the sort of initiative that is enriched by the Coalition's synergy.” Riverdale also celebrated International Women’s Day quite successfully last year. King remarked, “Last year's events had a strong turn out, and based on student participation in feminist clubs, we expect an even stronger turnout this year. … Excitingly, this year we will have more faculty-led workshops.” King also explained that the increase in faculty participation was a result of Seneca's efforts to link students with teachers who have worked diligently to empower women, creating a network of like-minded community members with common goals. With more people helping to plan and work on International Women’s Day, there is sure to be much opportunity for both personal and also communal growth.
Pfeffer, when speaking about the planning process, remarked that the day will allow multiple student organizations on campus to come together and make an event that features all different types of feminism on campus. She continued, saying, “there will be food from women entrepreneurs from the city facilitated through Zawadi by Youth [and] there will be posters and presentations from women who are in STEM at Riverdale.” The planners have also organized a display of artwork from women in the RCS community. Finally, the day will include an activity in which all can explore the relationship between fashion and feminism. Those involved in the Day also plan on focusing on all women in the Riverdale community and including different types of perspectives, including women in the Riverdale community of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, in addition to women of varying sexual orientations.
International Women’s Day is very important to many different people in the Riverdale community for a multitude of reasons. Mr. Vidale agreed with the importance of International Women’s Day, saying he “thinks it is important to celebrate women, [because] we live in a patriarchal society that privileges men, and women of all races--all walks of life--have had to exist in a society… that often oppresses them. So here is a day, one day out of the year…where we can really lend our support, and… let women know that they are appreciated and that they are loved, that they are seen, [and] that they are heard.” Students at Riverdale have been working very diligently to plan for International Women’s Day, and it is going to be a very empowering day for Women all over the globe. The day comes at a moment when community activities, including those for International Women’s Day, are working to acknowledge the intersectional nature of many relevant issues, including gender, within both the Riverdale and the broader global community. The day will be an important moment for members of the Riverdale community that have long strived to create an environment that better acknowledges the contributions of women, and will be an opportunity for all of us to be appreciative and to continue to educate ourselves on the topic of gender.