SOAS celebrates International Women’s Day theme #ChoosetoChallenge

IWD 2021

More than a century since the first ever celebration of International Women’s Day, SOAS alumna Nozipho Tshabalala asks: Are we still talking about women in 2021?

Tshabalala, who graduated with an MA in International Relations and Diplomacy in 2008, is a conversation strategist, professional moderator, and award-winning business journalist. In her blog, she traces women’s progress globally over the past several decades, while noting that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the breadth and depth of the work that still needs to be done.

For this year’s International Women’s Day, the SOAS Blog is celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women around the world by publishing a range of digital content from within and outside the SOAS community. We have joined the universal calls to action for accelerating gender parity by asking a number of diverse contributors to share their stories celebrating women’s achievements or rallying for equality under this year’s theme #ChoosetoChallenge

Throughout the week, we will be posting a series of articles and other multimedia content from a range of writers around the world that touch on fascinating topics around abortion rights, queer activism, sexual violence, empowerment, women’s history and more. We are excited to share first-person and reported pieces from Palestine, Nigeria, Malawi, Kosovo, and right here in the United Kingdom.

For example, we interviewed Singalilwe Chilemba, a Malawian development professional and creative writer who partnered with SOAS fellow Benjamin Dix and his organisation Positive Negatives to produce an animation about access to safe abortion in Malawi.

Deirbhile Ní Bhranáin, a current MA Media in Development student, has written a feature about the Palestinian activist group Al-Qaws, which aims to “raise our voices against the patriarchal, colonial, and capitalist oppressions on LGBT and queer Palestinians, and to demand an end to violence against our bodies and lives.”

Another current student pursuing a BA in International Relations is Pendar Sadeghi, who interviewed the Nigerian journalist and activist Kiki Mordi about her groundbreaking BBC Africa documentary ‘Sex for Grades’, and her work founding a new organisation that focuses on documenting women and investigating the exclusion of women’s contribution to history. 

We also have a contribution from photojournalist and writer Valerie Plesch, who has submitted a photo series that explores the lasting legacy of sexual violence from the Kosovo war and the shame and stigma survivors continue to endure two decades years later. 

Also in celebration of Womxn’s History Month, the SOAS Student Union Womxn’s Officers have put together a blog detailing the full calendar of events promoting equality, inclusivity, liberation, mindfulness and more. 

From challenge comes change, so stay tuned throughout the week as we bring you uplifting stories of inspirational women that have shared their interpretations of this year’s theme #ChoosetoChallenge. 

Maxine Betteridge-Moes is a SOAS Digital Ambassador pursuing an MA Media in Development. Born and raised in Canada, she has worked in Asia and Africa as a journalist, podcast producer and occasional music blogger. Follow her on Twitter @maxine_moes

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