International Women's Day 2018

What is International Women’s Day according to their website:

International Women's Day (IWD) is March 8 to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

"The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights," says world-renowned feminist, journalist and social and political activist Gloria Steinem. Thus International Women's Day is all about unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy and action - whatever that looks like globally at a local level. But one thing is for sure, International Women's Day has been occurring for well over a century - and continue's to grow from strength to strength.

Growing in Jersey City asked women in the community to share their stories of what IWD stands for to them. We wanted to continue to share their stories in a more focused arena surrounding this day.

Do you have a story to share? Use the comments to write what IWD means to you!

To Growing in Jersey City, IWD is celebrating the power these amazing women have. We are surrounded by women who take up a cause, start a business, support their friends, and all of this is too small or too big to share. We have shared the story of three women who are DACA recipients; of a single mother living her dream while making sure her daughter knows that she can live hers too; and of the fashion designer who hopes to inspire other young women to never stop believing. Jersey City is filled to the brim with diverse and wonderful people. We hope you take the time to talk to the person next to you because you never know what their story is and how they will change your life.

Dougmary Esquijarosa, Owner and Founder of A Green Unicorn

Launching my business was a pure showcasing of how powerful women are together. Dozens of women have and continue to support and help me make my dreams possible without questioning - I changed careers in a foreign language, after investing years and money in my previous career, quit my job, and launched a business. I decided to launch my business on March 8, 2017 to celebrate them and to remind my daughter that she should pursue her dreams and that when women support each other incredible things happen.

Ashley Carmenatty, Photographer and Jersey City Native

Growing up, I was always one of the boys - playing in dirt and roughing each other up; doing what society would deem “boy things.” It never occurred to me the difference in gender until I hit puberty and my mother told me that I couldn’t play with the boys anymore since I was a girl now. I really hated that day. It showed me the unfortunate truth of being a preteen girl and how we lose a lot of opportunities because of our biological differences. However, I promised myself that I’d always do what I wanted no matter what.

In high school I played soccer, I was a band geek playing the oboe (the only one from a public school during that time), and I got into photography for the yearbook. There were so many girls with canon cameras in their hands going around my school capturing memories. But now that I’m older, I mostly see men in the photography field and I get a lot of guys trying to belittle my work. That’s when I decided no one would hold me back from doing what I love, so I started my own business and got a camera that is rarely used by women (it’s also one of the best). There is a lack of female photographers, I only know 4 other women; I truly hope we can change that. I’d love to see more of us out there showing the world how much we have to offer. Happy International Women’s Day to the young girls and women pursuing their dreams no matter what. PURSUE IT ANYWAY!

Nia Ita, Afro-indigina NYC writer navigating life and love

I’ve been asking myself what it means to be a woman. I tried googling the question, but besides some basic physiological distinctions, I didn’t find much. After reflecting on the matriarchs in my family and my personal experiences, I’ve settled on the belief that to be a woman means to be beautiful. Now, I don’t mean superficial beauty - the kind that we’ve been conditioned and socialized to aspire for. No.

To be a woman means to shine from the inside out. It means to push through and break out. It means loving ourselves, our sisterhoods, and our family. It means finding joy and laughter in the midst of the struggle we are born into. Not all girls become women. You can tell who the real women are because they are the ones lifting each other up.

Virginia Toman, Foodie, Blogger, and NJ Enthusiat

My mom has taught me everything I know. From cooking and cleaning to how to use a power drill (and almost every other power tool for that matter). She’s armed me with an arsenal of knowledge that I’m certain has saved my life in multiple ways, every single day. The technical skills come easy for me, however 30 years in and I’m still learning how to embrace and approach people with the compassion of my mother, of any mother. Don’t get me wrong, in no way do I think being a mother defines womanhood. What I DO think is that every woman, even one with no biological children of her own, have a mothering inside of her that through some divine intervention emerges from within whenever there’s a need. In times when my own Mom couldn’t be around to comfort me, I’ve found a mother’s spirit in an auntie, a teacher, a friend, a coworker, even a stranger. How powerful are we as women to possess such a gift? It’s International Women’s Day, thank a Mom.

Johanna Ocampo, Owner of Fast Track Languages

I come from Colombia, a beautiful and warm country, where I believe the music lifts one’s spirit and elevates the soul. Fortunately, I am the daughter of a wonderful woman who inspired me daily because I always watched her work extremely hard to give her children what she always believed was the best! I experienced a mother who was brave and confident, which were characteristics passed onto me. My mom also seeked out knowledge and I am so proud to write that she taught herself how to read and write so she could help her children with their homework and gain her Bachelors in Childhood Education. How amazing is that? She is and will always be my hero, armed with intelligence and compassion met by no one else in my life.

I am the sister of two beautiful, smart women and two kind, intelligent men. We were raised to respect and care for each other. While a mother’s love cannot be compared to other kinds of love, she demonstrated what true-unconditional love means. She guided us to create and sustain a strong friendship among siblings based on three strong pillars; compassion, love and loyalty.

I founded Fasttrack-Languages in 2008, an educational-enrichment program. It was located in Manhattan until I moved to Jersey City and decided to continue the program here. I have had the opportunity to work in different schools in Jersey City and I have seen how we all benefit from being inspired, educated, and supported to be our whole and brilliant selves in our lives, relationships, and community. We all have our own language to communicate our curiosities, loves, fears, laughters, and lightness.

Celeste Ruggia, Jersey City Native and local enthusiat

What being a woman means to me - a fighter, a lover, a dreamer, a protector, and an example of change. There is no true definition of a women, but I try to be the best person I can be. I want the generations of women to come after me to know that my generation and the generations before, fought and held true to our beliefs in a loving, honest, and equal world. Being a woman means defending people no matter what gender, sexual orientation, or color of their skin against those who try take away our freedoms.

I will fight for the future. I love all with open arms and hope that the haters will try to understand and listen with their mind. I dream of a world where we can work together to help fix the problems we face. I will protect my body; it's my body and my choice. And I will "Be the change you want to see in the world," - Ghandi.

Jenna Firshein, Editor-in-Chief of Growing in Jersey City

There is so much power in the shared collective. With the Times Up and #metoo movements, women have begun to share their stories and now we know we are not alone. So, I believe everyday should be IWD because of the struggle women throughout the world continue to face, with too many to name, as each culture and country have their own challenges.

To the women who raised me (mother, aunts, neighborhood moms, teachers, and friends) - thank you for sharing who you are and being your true self and allowing yourself to share your story with me. I appreciate you all for your beauty, strength wisdom, and love.

#WomenOwnedBusiness #Women #DACA #Moms #Community #MinorityOwnedBusiness #Networking #Feminist #Feminism

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