Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

March 8 proclaimed by United Nations in 1977 as International Women’s day

On the occasion of International Women’s Day we feature an Op-Ed by our very dear friend and mentor Dolly Dastoor

March 8 proclaimed by United Nations in 1977 as International Women’s day

On this special day we wish to congratulate Zarthushti women all over the world on their achievements big and small. Much has been achieved in all fields which were once considered male bastions. Our women have been in the forefront of all fields, politics, culture, music, arts, science, finance. Much has been achieved but much needs to be done. Zarathushti women have superficial gender equality but we need to continue to work for acceptance of all women into religions ceremonies irrespective as to whom they are married to.

International Women’ Day is the story of ordinary women as makers of history. It is rooted in the centuries-old struggle of women to participate in society on an equal footing with men. In ancient Greece, Lysistrata initiated a sexual strike against men in order to end war, during the French Revolution, Parisian women calling for “liberty, equality, fraternity” marched on Versailles to demand women’s rights to vote. n Canada till 1929 , women were not considered ”persons” and hence had no vote.

Today for most of us reading this we cannot even imagine those times.

But has much changed since then? Women are still demanding equal rights and demanding a life free of violence, rape and sexual abuse at all levels from the highest echelons of government to the lowest village.

The idea of an International Women’s Day first arose at the turn of the century, which in an industrialized world was a period of expansion and turbulence, booming population growth and radical ideologies. The first National Women’s day was established by a group of socialist women in the United States in 1908. This act inspired an international event.

This day is an occasion marked by women’s groups around the world. Women on all continents, often divided by national boundaries and by ethnic, linguistic, cultural economic and political differences come together to celebrate their day. They can look back to a tradition that represents at least nine decades of struggle for equality, justice peace and development.

But for many many women and girls across the world violence is a fact of life, violence only because of their gender. Rape and sexual assault has become a weapon of war, there has been no other time in history when there have been more widows as a result of armed conflict.

Of the 1.2 billion people living in poverty worldwide, 70% are women , 80% of the world’s 27 million refugees are women. Women do two-thirds of the world’s work but receive only 10% of the world’s income.

We in North America are fortunate to be where we are but many many of our sisters continue to suffer from being uprooted, their lives turned upside down, starvation, abuse and are helpless to do anything about it and the world is silent as in the case of the Kurdish Zoroastrians,being blown apart in Afrin., Syria But it took one woman Awat to fight for their cause, It took the Peshmerga army of women to fight the aggressors. We are haunted by their suffering but inspired by their courage. We need to let their voices be heard.

As women of faith may we all continue to strive for a better and more peaceful world for our children and grandchildren

Yatha Zanyad, yatha afrinami

Dolly Dastoor