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International Women’s day – 8th of March

Updated: Dec 5, 2021

Written by Arthemis.

First of all, I must question why there even exists a Women’s day? Why only one day of the year? If there was true equality between the sexes, why then the need to put a spotlight on just one of the two? Why don’t we have Men’s day?

It is in my opinion that the mere fact that a Women’s day came into being, is the proof that discrimination and inequality persist. As mention below, the Women’s day was born from the fights and demonstrations of women demanding better pay and working conditions. It has been more than a hundred years and has anything change? In some parts of the world, women are still at the very beginning of the movement, battling for basic rights. If we wish to keep this holiday, that has become as commercial and irrelevant as Valentine’s day, it should be used as day of evaluation. A scored board of what has improved and what more can be done to correct the situation and/or status in life of women around the world.

With this article, my hope is to demonstrate how little we have advanced in the fight for equality between man and woman. A fight that should not exist at all, since most demands are basic human rights…

International Women’s day began as a labour movement, where 15 000 women marched through the city of New York in 1908. They were demanding for better pay, shorter working hours, and the right to vote. One year later, the socialist party of America declares the first National Women’s Day. In Copenhagen, the following year (1910), the idea of an international women’s day was brought to the table during the International for working women conference. In 1911, four countries marked International woman’s day: Australia, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland. After women gained suffrage in Russia in 1917 (the beginning of the February Revolution), International Women’s day was made a national holiday on March 8; it was subsequently celebrated on that date by the socialist movement and communist countries. It was not until the 8th of March 1975, International Women’s year, that the UN celebrated its first official International women’s day.

The day was meant to create awareness of women’s issues, talk about challenges faced by women. However, today women are still battling Victorian-era mentality. It is 2021 and women are still fighting for the most basic and primitive rights.

Violence against women is real. Six women are killed every hour by men around the world. 137 women are killed every day by a partner or family member. [i]

Femicide has worsened during the pandemic. Stay-at-home measures have led to the increased isolation of women and girls. When lockdown measures were introduced, women with violent partners or relatives became trapped with their abusers. Add to the situation the unemployment rates worldwide, the economic stress and the rising alcoholism; all of which has resulted in increasing domestic violence.

The Global Gender Gap report 2020, shared the percentage of women who were victims of sexual or physical abuse:

45% Middle East and North Africa

31% Sub Saharan Africa

38% Asia

27% Latin America and the Caribbean

32% North America

22% Western Europe

Marital rape is legal in 36 countries. It is legal to physically hit a woman for the purpose of correction in Nigeria, if done by a wife’s husband. Women in El Salvador used to be allowed to have abortions in cases of rape or if the health of the baby or mother was at risk. But in 1998, a new law enacted under a conservative government completely outlawed it. Women in this country are now being jailed for miscarriages.[ii]

A persisting battle that women are still fighting is for education. Women are still being denied the right to education and consequently their independence. Only 66% of countries have achieved gender parity in primary education. For upper secondary education, it falls to 25% of countries.[iii]

Where in some countries, girls are refused the right to go to school, in others they are attacked for going. On October 9th, 2012, Malaya Yousafzai was shot by the Taliban for been too outspoken for Pakistan’s Swat Valley district. She was fifteen years old. Across the border in Afghanistan, 51 000 girls lost the access to school when 210 girl’s schools were closed in 2016. In Mali, girls are sexually violated for failing to adhere to dress codes imposed by armed groups. In Somalia, girls are kidnapped from schools to become wives of al Shabaab fighters.

Today, 132 million girls are out of school. They are denied a financial future and the very basic right to an education. And when women do work, they earn 77% of what men earn.[iv] Women perform 2.6 more unpaid domestic work then men do. Only six countries give women and men equal legal work rights: Belgium, Denmark, France, Latvia, Luxemburg, and Sweden. The world Bank, which has tracked legal charges for the past decade, found these were the only countries in the world to protect gender equality in the laws affecting work. Even though the convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against women (CEDAW) adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly, is often described as an international bill of rights for women...

It is time for meaningful change! We should all be feminist…Everyday of the year, not only on the 8th of March. But most of all, we should all practice being humanist. For if everyone was a true humanist, concerned for human welfare, values and dignity, these terrible conditions would not exist and true gender equality would be obtained.

[i] United nations, 2017 [ii] BBC [iii] Unicef [iv] Amnesty International


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