Today is March 8th, International Women’s Day. A day for women to congratulate each other on fighting hard in order to get the same equal rights as men, and for doing a good job out of it. That applies to every industry and every business field, including, of course, languages and translation. And that is why this week’s blog post is dedicated to female translators and interpreters.
On this day, I always like to look back and evaluate the meaning of this celebration and how it has evolved throughout the years. It all started back in 1909, when the US Socialist Party suggested to celebrate Socialist Women’s Day on February 28th. The following year, the movement reached Europe, and even though it wasn’t officially recognized by the UN until 1975, women kept growing conscious of their rights and celebrated their day every year, fueled by tragedies like the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, or their proactive role in the events that led up to the Russian Revolution.
From 1975 on, March 8th has been designated as the official International Women’s day, a day that in some countries still stirs a lot of political controversy and activism, and in others it has been toned down to a simple celebration in commemoration of women’s fight for their rights in the past – and the present.
My views on it are not especially strong. I’ve never felt mistreated, I love my job and I do feel blessed to have family and friends that love me for who I am. I do think, however, that it’s nice to have a day when I can go out and tell my girl friends “congratulations for doing what you do”, because it is, as a matter of fact, a daily struggle to keep up with a life being a woman. We are workers, we are wives, we are mothers and daughters, we are teachers and we are pupils, we are bosses and subordinates, we always try to look our best even when we are crumbling down inside, we get to suffer the most terrible pains and feel the most rewarding happiness.
And if, added to all of that, we are also translators, then we do have quite the responsibility on our shoulders. We are in charge of breaking language barriers across the world. We try to soften cultural differences and get everybody to understand each other and commit to a mutual agreement in a language that we can all share. We get a piece of a puzzle that just doesn’t fit anywhere, we work on it, we file it and reshape it so that it matches the pieces around it and the puzzle can be complete. And all of that without forgetting the rest of our duties in daily life.
Some men might think that it is sort of unfair that on a day like today we get to praise ourselves like that without holding back, just because it was established that March 8th is a day dedicated to women, and maybe they are right. But there is no harm in raising our chins high every once in a while, smiling and feeling proud for being who we are, patting each other on the back and reminding ourselves that whatever happens, whatever comes our way, we are women, and we are powerful.
So congratulations to all female translators of the planet, for making this world a little better and more understandable every day. You deserve every praise you can get… Today, as well as every other day.