International Women’s Day was observed on Tuesday, March 8. There’s so much I want to say that I think I’ll just jump in.
First of all, I am grateful to have been born during the second wave of the women’s movement and to have been raised by feminist parents. I am grateful that I can choose to quilt because it appeals to me among a wide range of hobbies and activities that are available, and not because it is expected that this is one of the few things I am able (not to mention permitted) to do. I am grateful, especially in a down economy, that I can combine my interest in quilting with other skills and experiences to have a career and provide for my family. (Once again, thanks, Bonnie Leman!)
I just learned, thanks to the Want It, Need It, Quilt! blog out of Australia, that International Women’s Day is inextricably linked to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, the 100th anniversary of which is coming up on March 25. This is perhaps the most tragic example of how women’s history is often tied to textiles.
One of the things I most appreciate about quilting, and about QN’s focus, is how it contains the anthropological record of women’s lives and tells the stories of their roles as homemakers and community builders. This tradition flourishes today with quilts being used to tell stories both personal and social. A few examples of 2011 IWD events that incorporated quilts include the following:
- A “quilt of care” that’s being used to garner support for a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in San Francisco
- A quilt made by North African women inscribed with prayers and messages that was part of an anti-violence rally in Tulsa
- The Strong Women’s Quilt Project in Alice Springs, Australia that “looks at how women help each other through hard relationships”
- Participants in the World YWCA Office’s celebrations of IWD in Geneva, Switzerland, attended a Peace Quilt exhibit that brought together quilts from around the world to “show the resilience of women in the face of adversity.”
Again, there’s just too much to say on this subject, and I’ve spent too long on this blog post as it is (we’re mighty busy around these parts lately!). Women have come a long way in the past 100 years, but there is much work left to be done, from maternal mortality rates to sex trafficking to supporting families and communities through microloans. All I know is that I am grateful for those who have come before, humbled by those who continue the work now, and mindful of my responsibility to pass on what I’ve received.