One thing that I miss the most about my home country (Italy) is the celebration of International Women's Day. Back at home, I went to a school mainly dominated by girls; we did have a few guys, but not that many. During my high school times, I was in a class of 20 other girls. We were neither really close to each other nor did we dislike each other. Actually, within a class of 20 girls, we were segregated into smaller groups, so we did develop true friendship within all that. Regardless of all, we had one thing in common- we were little teenagers growing up into strong and tenacious women; we were all eager to change the world and leave a mark.
I never truly celebrated Women's Day. With typical strict Bengali parents, I could dream of stepping out of the home if it wasn't to go to school. I always wished I had some fancy dinner with my girlfriends. Anyway, so the real-time, I actually celebrated Women's Day, it was indeed at school. The first time, it happened exactly on the 8th of March when my literature professor, a very kind and sweet man, brought us flowers. You may think - what's so special about these flowers? Well, they were not any kind of flowers; they were actually yellow flowers that we call mimosa ( and no- not an ingredient that you would put in your alcoholic Mimosa drink).
These types of flowers only grow in Italy and only during the month of March. They possess a very special meaning. They may appear to be very delicate and fragile, but they are very strong and they manage to grow and bloom in difficult lands- just like every woman.
So what's the reason for gifting the mimosa flower? The reason goes back to 1946 when two gender equality proponents, named Rita Montagna and Teresa Mattei decided to celebrate the first Women's Day after the war by offering branches of mimosa to other women as a sign of respect and support. Since then, this tradition has been passed on to the next generations, and every year on the 8th of March, every woman receives a bouquet of mimosa from a male figure whether that is her husband, brothers, fiancee, and so forth. It is a custom that is only celebrated in Italy.
As the woman I am today, there are many things I need to fight for. Growing up in two conflicting cultures where at home I had to follow so many rules and restrictions and often was the victim of double standards, there are things that are still not fair towards Bengali girls. We should have equal rights as boys and men regardless of our ethnicity and gender.
Nevertheless, I am no longer a teenager and I do have the power to make a change. I will fight for myself to achieve my personal goals, and I will stand by to always support every woman who grew up like me by sharing my personal story in my blog and by dedicating my time to nonprofit organizations that advocate women's empowerment.
In the end, every woman is strong like a mimosa!
"She is a true fighter, you can see it in her eyes. She was not born strong, she was made strong. She was sculpted to be her own hero when the world lets her down and she keeps picking herself back up."