March is the month when much of the world celebrates women – every day women – who they are, what they have achieved and the phenomenal barriers that exist for us to be valued.
My March month began with celebrating Ruby Bridges day on 5 March; a day that commemorates a brave little girl’s entry into an all-white school in New Orleans on Nov 14 1960. Today, Ruby is an American Civil Rights icon and author and her story is beautifully captured in a painting by Norman Rockwell entitled The Problem We All Live With. This 1963 painting, that hangs in the White House, is of Ruby with a plaited pony tail with a white ribbon, in a white dress, white socks, white shoes, escorted by two men going into her school. On the wall, in the background is abusive graffiti and the remains of a tomato thrown at her. Ruby’s head is held high and she makes me proud.
Last weekend the South Bank Arts Centre in London held its annual Women of the World Festival (WOW). Each year the festival grows and grows and for the second year running there was a debate, workshop and an exhibition on the politics of black women’s hair. And, on Thursday 6 March there was a BBC Women’s Hour discussion with Hannah Pool on the importance of hair to black women. These events reminded me of Ruby Bridges and also of my own research and writing on women in society.
At MSL we look at our social media engagement statistics on a weekly basis and noted that on 8 March, International Women’s Day, we welcomed visitors from UK, US, Spain, Indonesia, Germany, Malaysia, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Afghanistan, and France. Not all were women but that doesn’t matter.
So we will continue to celebrate women’s achievements during March. On Monday 31 March we are hosting a special event focusing on three women – all of whom are ordinary but who have done extraordinary things. It would be great to see you and if not you, suggest a friend! More details can be found at: www.maggiesemple.com
By Maggie Semple