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International Women’s Day

David Turshyan, Librarian, International Languages Department,
March 8: International Women’s Day - Graphic

What is the innermost secret of a woman’s heart?  Throughout centuries, poets, philosophers, devotees in the fields of art and science have come across this question at one time or another. And yet, the mystery remains as pristine and pure as a rose to a nightingale on the first day of creation, finding an elegant expression in a fairy tale.

In Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, little Gerda, all alone, sets out on a long journey to find her little companion Kai. At one point in the story, a Finn woman is asked to give Gerda special powers, to which the former replies that she can’t give her more power than she already has: “Don’t you see how much she possesses? Haven’t you noticed how man and beast alike want to help her? Look how far she’s come in the wide world on those bare feet! But we mustn’t tell her about this power. Her strength lies deep in her heart…”

And so it is, and yet, what does Gerda feel deep inside when she sets out on a journey to rescue little Kai from the cold kingdom of the Snow Queen? Motherly devotion? Sisterly affection? Responsibility of friendship? A call to embrace nature? Perhaps one and the others? Perhaps on a deeper level Gerda’s journey is an allegory of becoming a woman?

In many countries around the world, March 8 is celebrated as the International Women’s Day – a kind appreciation and love towards all women – whether a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a life companion, a wild spirit or a stellar traveler. On this day women are also recognized as the ambassadors of international peace. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “It is given to her to teach the art of peace to the warring world thirsting for that nectar.” And so it is, and perhaps her innate grace of reconciling contradictions is one of the hidden secrets of the woman’s heart.