In an island community that regularly elects female representatives, hires female leaders and values female opinions, it’s easy to forget that’s not the case everywhere — far from it, in fact. There are still plenty of places in this country that have never printed a woman’s name on a ballot and where women are expected to call their bosses “Mr. So and So” while the boss calls them whatever he pleases (until someone speaks up.)

International Women’s Day is now recognized each year on March 8, occurring conveniently during Women’s History Month, which celebrates the achievements of women throughout history and looks forward to a day of true and global equality.

I was a bit surprised while preparing this article that Key West wasn’t planning much in the way of International Women’s Day celebrations or commemorations.

I contacted arts organizations, women’s shelters, schools and service organizations, and while  The Marker Hotel is hosting women’s happy hour gatherings, there wasn’t much in the way of a march, a parade or a demonstration, and we all know how much sign-toting Key Westers love a good march.

Then it hit me. As I was calling around, sending texts and perusing event websites, I realized our community does a damn good job of celebrating and empowering women every day, not just on March 8.

Certainly there’s work to be done. No one’s perfect and there’s always room for improvement.

But there’s a Women’s Film Festival launching in the coming weeks. There’s a women’s forum at The Studios of Key West later this month exploring what still remains for women in the second half of their life. There are inspirational art shows featuring the work of women and inspirational women all around us in every walk of life — educators and school principals, county tourism directors, hotel general managers, bank CEOs, newspaper editors, chefs, photographers, business owners, singers, actors, bartenders, museum curators, truck drivers, divers,  boat captains, mayors and commissioners, commercial fisherwomen and so much more.

And while we don’t necessarily do these things “backwards and in high heels,” many women do these high-powered jobs while also managing to be amazing mothers, wives, daughters and caretakers.

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Most of Key West and the Florida Keys empower and enable women every day.  Perhaps on Sunday, March 8, as the world fights for women’s equality, this community can celebrate what it already does.

Happy International Women’s Day, Key West. But are we sure we don’t want to march?

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