It’s a Celebration! Sharing Traditions of How Women Celebrate: To Commemorate International Women’s Day March 11, 2022

02 Apr 2022 10:18 PM | Barbara Newbegin (Administrator)

On March 11, 2022 CFUW-Ottawa and CFUW-Nepean co-hosted a Peer-to-Peer Conversation in honour of International Women's Day. Graduate Women International (GWI) members from around the world were invited  to take part in a peer-to-peer conversation on the nature of celebrations across cultures. Here is a summary of this event.

It’s a Celebration!  Sharing Traditions of How Women Celebrate

March 11, 2022 GWI & CFUW Peer – to – Peer Conversation

To Commemorate International Women’s Day

Attended by 57 participants

International Participants From:  Bolivia, Egypt, India, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Pakistan, Romania, Switzerland, USA

CFUW and UWC Participants From:  Abbottsford, Edmonton, Milton, Nepean, North Bay, Orillia, Ottawa, St. Catharines, Stratford, Strathcona County, North Vancouver, Vancouver

Significance of Symbolism within GWI   The Introduction is available here:     

 The original IFUW Logo, lamp of friendship, presented by Stacy Dry Lara, GWI Executive Director

(info copied from GWI website, formerly known as IFUW)

“The lamp logo was designed by members of the Norwegian Federation for the Third Conference in Oslo in 1924. The delegates at that meeting adopted it as the permanent badge of IFUW. The original showed an antique lamp representing the light of learning on a blue background broken with the letters of IFUW. Around the central disc was an interlinked chain symbolising the bonds of friendship linking IFUW members throughout the world. Eventually the lamp came to be known as the lamp of friendship. It was later modernised and the chain was dropped.” Stacy Dry Lara.

Topics/Items Shared

  • Importance of family and the experiences when getting together to celebrate (Music, Singing and Dancing))
  • Importance of celebrating special days eg. Valentines, birthdays, national holidays/historic moments, the seasons
  • Concerns regarding women’s reproductive rights major issue in 60’s and 70’s in England (not as much in Canada and now at risk of rollbacks in the USA)
  • World Water Day – projects/activities to reduce water usage eg. Tie Dye (Bandhai)
  • Celebration of International Women’s Day in Pakistan seen as a good sign – more gender equality particularly with finances

Reasons for Celebrations

  • Increasing self-control for women
  • Transmitting cultural links across generations and celebrating cultural identity
  • Paying tribute to the past, the present and promoting hope for the future
  • To bring attention to the global community (reason to belong and celebrate GWI)
    • Eg. Important enough for a young girl to make herself available to translate so her mother could participate
  • To bring attention to the global need of environmental protection
  • To pass on or encourage income-generating skills
  • To acknowledge and celebrate friendship and contribute to the “common good”
  • To acknowledge mothers and their strong influence on us
  • To provide an opportunity for social connections, networking, and activism

Perceptions related to Celebrations

  • Women’s role in planning and facilitating celebrations not always given the  acknowledgement it should – they are the weavers of social fabric
  • Many celebrations involved food (that while in the past it was usually the women who were in the kitchen together preparing food there has been a shift (at least in Canada) with the preparation of food now being more of a shared experience)
  • Potential of “lip service” celebrations of International Women’s Day. Eg. Celebrate the day and women’s achievements but pay women less than men for equivalent work
  • While Israel is currently celebrating Independence Day and women in Israel participate fully in the life of the country, they are still fighting to be equal. Some of the Orthodox religious groups are more restrictive of women. Mother's Day has been replaced by Family Day. 
  • Celebrations bringing us closer together by making us feel part of a group and special. .
  • Symbols like the lamp are meaningful for us, showing that we are part of a group and honouring the group. Colours, crests and logo can be used to impart special meaning.
  • Light (candles, lamps, fireworks) play an important role in many celebrations. 

Potential Actions

  • Encourage participants to wear their “symbols” of membership in CFUW, GWI and NFA’s to future Peer to Peer Conversations
  • Explore options to breach language barriers through IT translation programs, and use of family and friends for international webinars.


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