International Women’s Day is a global holiday celebrated annually on March 8th to honor the cultural, political, and socioeconomic achievements of women. This year, we have chosen to celebrate this day in an eight-hour long celebration at the Willy Brandt Center in Jerusalem, with online panels, performances and movie screenings.
Due to the COVID19 Pandemic guidelines, the celebrations took place virtually via ZOOM. We invited activists, artists, journalists, race car drivers, and researchers from all over the world, to share their personal stories as well as their thoughts and views regarding International Women’s Day. We were overwhelmed by the fact that so many guests from different countries and continents joined us, some of them even staying with us for the whole day.
The event began with an international champion, the Palestinian race car driver Noor Daoud from Ramallah who is the first female drift racer in the Middle East. She shared with us important moments of her life, her passions and the challenges that she had been through. Daoud described her journey from the very beginning, when she fell in love with cars as a little girl. She cherished her collection of toy cars – since she was a child, all she liked to do was to play with them. Her mother had supported her unique professional career from the start, and her passion, self-discipline and commitment grew and made her the first female drifter in the Middle East, an international prize winner and participant in international movies.
We also had the pleasure to watch an interview with Prof. Andrea Peto from the Central European University in Vienna, that was produced and filmed by the Jewish Museum Hohenems as part of the exhibition “The Last Europeans”. In the interview, Prof. Peto talked about Women’s rights and Gender Studies with a special focus on the increasing challenges during the times of the global pandemic.
We were exited to host the young musicologist and art manager Katharina Bohler from Munich, who presented her academic study on female conductors and their role as leaders in the classical music scene.
Some contributions were given by young women that live in Nablus, and they shared the challenges faced by women in a patriarchal society.
We then welcomed the reporter Jessica Golloher, who joined us live from the USA. As one of radio news’ most prolific female voices, Golloher is known for presenting front-line, breaking news reports from complex, often violent, crisis zones. She talked about the importance of journalism today, her international career as a female reporter, and her most nerve-wracking situations while working in war zones.
The event continued with a very interesting conversation with Mahdi Baraghiti, an artist who filmed his mother talking about memories during hard times as a Palestinian refugee. The next talk, by Hadeel Abu Salih, featured feminist movements through historical Palestine.
We were then proud to welcome Swiss singer, actress and dramaturge Christiane Boesiger, who gave an introduction and artistic tribute to the Argentinian-Swiss feminist poet Alfonsina Storni, one of the most renowned poets in Latin American literature. Her literary work reflects her conflict with society and its values, and especially her lifelong battle for women’s rights, making Storni’s work seem more relevant today than ever before.
In our final session, Israeli actress and filmmaker Moryia Benavot talked about her movie “Empty Handed”. Stillbirth and pregnancy loss are usually only discussed behind closed doors; the film, which is now being edited, is an attempt to shed some light on this important subject. “Empty Handed” follows the filmmaker’s life from right before she found out she was pregnant, through checkups, results, heart shattering doubts, life changing decisions and, eventually, stillbirth, and shows the parents’ difficulties as they had to face the world afterwards and deal with their relationship and broken hearts. The film incorporates animation to express emotions that are too dense for words. Between a simple dream of having a baby and a painful confrontation with reality, a film was born. It speaks of alienation, regret, anger, jealousy and infinite sadness, and a society unable to cope with these feelings. It also deals with the persistent search for the path that leads back to life. We were grateful for Benavot’s courageous and open approach while bringing this topic closer to us and our audience.