International Women’s Day is honored every year on March 8th to show respect, appreciation and love toward women for their economic, political and social achievements. Some people celebrate the day by wearing purple ribbons.  International Women’s Day was first observed in the west after 1977 as the UN Day for women’s rights and world peace, while many years prior some western countries marked the date to emphasis women’s contributions to the war effort.  We continue to celebrate International Women’s Day every year and just recently, former president, Barrack Obama dedicated March as Women’s History Month to remember and honor the women of this country. #OneDayIwill

In Italy, it’s a non-official holiday where men give yellow mimosas to women.  Teresa Mattei, an Italian politician, chose the mimosa flower as the symbol of IWD.  Today, groups of Italian women usually celebrate on the night of March 8th in women-only dinners and parties.  For more information about International Women’s Day, go to internationalwomensday.com.  This year’s theme is Be Bold for Change.  #IWD2017 #BeBoldForChange  I would like to recognize and honor two women.  I chose these two women because they are both Sicilian.

Maria Mondo – Many of you don’t know her, but she’s my mom.  She came to America back in the early sixties with my brother and father.  She grew up in Rometta, a small village in Sicily surrounded by her entire family, oblivious to the workings of the world outside, she took the leap to travel to America.  Many long nights working side by side with my father, her commitment to family did not end after 7pm.  She provided a home cooked meal every evening and in the wee hours of the night, she would bake.  I can still smell the lemon merengue pie at midnight.  She may not be recognized publicly or been awarded for an invention or ground breaking changes in law, but I view her sacrifices and daily struggles as a woman who persevered and won.  My mother believes in women’s rights, equality and justice for all.   She is an outstanding educator, chef, fashion designer, creator, listener, friend and feminist.  Her upbringing should have silenced her, but she like my grandmother broke social norms.

Franca Viola – A rape survivor who changed the Italian laws.   Her family received death threats and even their home and vineyard were burned to the ground in Alcamo, Sicily.  Rape was considered a crime of public morality rather than a crime against the victim.  A rapist could be acquitted if they married the victim. I found this absolutely horrifying!  Viola and her family appealed the law and pushed for the rapist, a local Mafioso, to be prosecuted.  They won the case and the rapist was jailed for 11 years.   Viola and her family paved the way to change Italian laws and how society viewed rape and domestic violence.  She continues to live in Alcamo with her husband and 2 children.  She was just awarded the highest honor,  the Order of Merit, in her role for improving the status of women in Italy.  When I read about her story, I was proud to be a Sicilian woman.  Her strength and family bond speaks volumes about the Sicilian culture, women and family.

These two women had their own struggles and hardships, but they prevailed using their own inner strength and family bonds.  In Sicily, family is everything and women rule.  It so apparent then as it is now.  Sit around the dinner table to truly understand a Sicilian matriarchal family.  Food and family summarizes a way of life in Sicily.  To appreciate the women of Sicily, take a look at our Sicily trip or personalize your trip your way.  Travel off the beaten path to Maria’s and Franca’s town.  Be inspired!  #BeBoldForChange