IT’S THE 100th anniversary of the first International Women’s Day, and Newsweek is celebrating “150 Women Who Shake the World.”
While it includes a small selection of women rights activists, the list of shakers is weighted down by the likes of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and German Chancellor Angela Merkel–women whose foreign policy decisions only make the lives of women in most of the world worse.
And if the definition of “powerful women” is their ability to amass wealth and influence at the expense of others, then the Newsweek list does its job–it includes billionaire Melinda Gates, former Washington, D.C., school “reform” guru Michelle Rhee and former First Lady Laura Bush.
But if you’re looking for powerful women who oppose exploitation, Newsweek is probably the wrong place to look. Because the source of women’s power–and the real legacy of International Women’s Day–is in protests and strikes that are part of a long and rich history of the women workers’ movement internationally.
This power was demonstrated just a few weeks ago in Cairo’s Tahrir Square–as men and women gathered in protests that took down Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak.
Asmaa Mahfouz, one of the founders of the April 6 Youth Movement who helped initiate the call for protests on January 25, described the transformation that took place in the square: “This is the first time in my life…I was not sexually harassed in a public square. The thousands of men in that square treated me like a human being.”