One of the most valuable aspect of spending a fellowship in DC is an opportunity to look at the “universally recognized” and celebrated landmarks through the uniquely US-perspective. To observe, compare, make conclusions and connections.
Hence that is one of the reasons why this years IWD for me  – was different then the rest. Growing up in post-soviet union space where the day marking women emancipation was skillfully changed into the holiday of spring, femininity,candies, flowers and all things sexist – I find the experience of this country all so more valuable. Not digging too much into the background of whys and hows the gap between perceptions in two countries is striking.
As such, when an early morning my russian-social-media feed and personal messages were filled with pictures of flowers, posts of wishing women to stay as feminine and fragile, and  to find a ” true female happiness” ( yes, the quote is a direct one) – my day  in Washington DC was packed with event organizing on women’s empowerment and the issues of women’s rights being put on the top of the agenda all over the city.
It is endlessly inspiring how many voices are flowing around DC, how many conversations are being held and how many people are eager to join in on the advancement of the movement. IWD here is used as the tool of solidarity, a space to break the barriers, to talk about gender based violence and equality loud and clear and from different perspective. A tool for criticizing the norms – instead of reinforcing the toxic stereotypes and supporting the oppression. It is a constant comfort filling to see how your voice is being echoed by so many others instead of being silenced by the society and supported only by the tiniest fraction of it.
Changes take time and US by no means is a poster-example on addressing gender issues. It is, however, a step in the right direction, where the day of recognizing women’s fight for their rights is viewed exactly as such – a day to commemorate, organize, speak up, address issues, support, empower and move forward.

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