International Womxn’s Day has always meant a lot to me. The fight for human rights and a life free of all forms of discrimination drove my career and passion for years.
Working on womxn and gender issues has been one of the most rewarding and transformative things I have ever done. I have met womxn who have endured so much and still love and give with an open heart. I have seen warriors and activists who keep fighting even when they are bloody and exhausted. I have seen allies who show support, hold space, and drag chairs to tables to make room for everyone.
My time in the sector also showed me some of the worst aspects of humanity. I remember coming home and crying at some of the stories of our survivors. I would be lying if I didn’t say the work jaded me as well. I looked with suspicious eyes at people wondering how many secrets they held, and the hurts they had inflicted. It seemed like I liked in a world filled with rapists, human traffickers, and abusers. Trust was a tough commodity for me then.
The only thing that kept me grounded and from becoming bitter was the male friends I had, who reminded me that I could not paint every guy with the same stroke, and my writin
I wrote my experiences, the stories of womxn, and my hard-learned lessons. I wrote them on margins of papers, typed on my phone, and some stayed stories in my head – whispers thrown to the universe.
That’s why my collaborations with Art by Thiviyaa every International Womxnn’s Day
mean so much to me. It is a chance for me to remember and give space to the phenomenal womxn I know.
For the last three years, we have created collabs that speak to different parts of our stories. In the first year, Thiviyaa created a piece to match my poetry, the second year, and I wrote a poem to complement her art. This year we decided to pick a theme and see what we create together.
We have an exciting post planned for you tomorrow but today I though I would take you through the last two years of beautiful stories.
International Womxn’s Day 2018 – “Unseen Darkness”: A piece that drew from my experience working in the gender-based violence sector and the way that racism and discrimination intersected the lived experience of women of colour. The first collab included photography by the talented Dilani Bala, who provided the inspirational photo. The collab started with a request from Abuse Never Becomes Us (ANBU) to print my poem and my request to Thiviyaa to paint something for the newsletter.
You can read the story behind Unseen Darkness here.
International Womxn’s Day 2019 – “Light and Free”: Inspired by the work of Thiviyaa’s art spoke to the strength of womxn. The poem is a reminder that our power is with us, and it is infinite.
Thiviyaa’s painting also reminded me of Mother Earth and Gaia, which inspired me to write another poem. I ended calling the second poem, “Dark and Free.” It is a celebration of how womxn overcome so much darkness and still rise, how we (all of us) remain connected to the great soul of Gaia.
International Womxn’s Day 2020 – “Healing and Empowerment”: Inspired the light and free spirit of women. Their power and strength, the way we inspire and move others. An reminder that we are the beauty of the past, the courage and bravery of the future, and creative love of existence. We are and always have been the heart of everything. Look out for this one tomorrow!
I hope you have an amazing International Womxn Day and celebrate all the wonderful and amazing womxn in your life.
Feature Photo credit: Sabeasan Jey.