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Celebrating International Women's Day through translation

Published on 08/03/2024

On Friday 8 March 2024, the whole world is celebrating International Women's Day. It provides us with a valuable opportunity to highlight the achievements of women and fields in which their influence is often downplayed. In this article, we'll explore the significant role played by women in the field of translation, highlighting specific examples of how translation is helping to advance women's rights on a global scale.

Pioneering women translators

Pioneering women translators who paved the way for the spread of feminist ideas are at the heart of the celebration of this day. Hélène Cixous, a French writer, philosopher and translator, is a striking example. She has devoted her life to translating the works of feminist theorists. Her commitment has played a significant role in extending the reach of these ideas beyond language barriers.

Another significant example is that of the Chinese translator Qiu Jin, who played a crucial role in the early twentieth century by translating Western feminist works. Her work was aimed at raising awareness among Chinese women of the gender equality movement. These women established links between cultures, facilitating the dissemination of ideas fundamental to women's rights.

Translation and female empowerment

Translation can be a powerful tool for empowering women by facilitating access to a variety of information and perspectives. For example, translating texts on reproductive health into local languages gives women access to crucial knowledge for making decisions about their bodies.

One specific example is the work of Brazilian translator Stephanie Pereira, who is committed to translating information on sexual and reproductive health in rural communities. Thanks to her efforts, women have gained independence by accessing crucial knowledge, strengthening their ability to make informed decisions about their health.

Inclusive language in translation

The question of inclusive language in translation is also an important aspect to explore. Women translators play an essential role in creating inclusive communications that recognise the diversity of women's experiences. Spanish translator Marta Díaz, for example, has worked on integrating gender-neutral language into her translations, thereby helping to promote gender equality.

Using inclusive language in translation is a powerful way of reflecting and respecting the diversity of gender identities. It makes it possible to overcome traditional linguistic stereotypes, creating a space where all women's voices can be heard and recognised.

Feminism on a global scale

Translation facilitates the spread of feminist ideas on a global scale, crossing linguistic and cultural barriers. One inspiring example is the translation of the book "We Should All Be Feminists" by the Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie into many languages. This work, translated by women translators from all over the world, has helped to spread the message of modern feminism to a variety of audiences, sparking discussion and action in different parts of the world.

Similarly, the commitment of Japanese translator Yayoi Kawamura has played a key role in the translation of Western feminist works in Japan, making a significant contribution to the evolution of the discourse on gender equality in Japanese society.

Conclusion

In honour of International Women's Day, we are highlighting the essential role played by women in society, particularly in the field of translation. Thanks to their dedication and ingenuity, these women translators have played a major role in spreading feminist ideas, empowering women and promoting linguistic inclusiveness.

Yet their work, although often unrecognised, remains essential to building a world where women's voices are heard, understood and respected. It's an invitation to recognise and celebrate those women who, through words, are helping to forge a more egalitarian and equitable future for all people, regardless of gender or language. 

Translation agencies, translators and translation in general are proving to be a powerful means of promoting equal rights, by establishing links between the experiences and struggles of women around the world.

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Emeline PADIEU's picture
Emeline PADIEU

Emeline holds a Master's degree in Applied Foreign Languages, specialising in International Management and International Trade Techniques. She completed her end-of-studies internship at AbroadLink Translations and now works there as a sales and marketing assistant

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