The city that I live in recently declared March 8, International Women’s Day, as a bank holiday. It is the only state in my country that holds this holiday. The story behind it is a lot less glorious than you might imagine. Rather than us really celebrating women, my state tried to raise their bank holidays to get closer to the national average as we were the state with the least bank holidays. There were a few options but for some reason International Women’s Day was chosen. I don’t know why but I would like to believe that it is to recognize the struggle that women are facing and to acknowledge the feminist movement.
We really associate the start of the feminist movement with the 1960’s and used Simone de Beauvoir book “The Second Sex” as its foundation. If you have never heard of this book, do yourself a favour pick up a copy. It is not an easy read but it is very worth it. However, it started a lot earlier with women make changes all over the world, for example in the 19th century when Elizabeth Yates in New Zealand became the first mayor of a town which was never heard of until that time in the British empire. Their goal has always been: equality.
To add in a little educational fun fact: did you know that we celebrate March 8th as International Women’s Day because on March 8th 1857 women were taking it to the streets to demand economic and political rights in the US? And on the same day in 1908 capitalist bosses set a textile factory in Chicago on fire where 120 women died? Check out this link to find out more about the history of this very meaningful day
Over 60 years if we use the 1960s as a time reference in this context. You would think that we would manage to achieve equality in 60 years, wouldn’t you? Not to mention in over 150 years. Well, it was so pleasantly pointed out to me yesterday, by a white male, that women and men are equal. I was really taken aback and had to stop myself from pointing how all of his arguments are flawed and simply just not true. If he was right then why would we need to fight for percentages for women in leadership positions in the economy? If he was right then why is it expected of women to take parental leave rather than men? If he was right then why is it frowned upon for women to not be married and be childless in their thirties but no one would even dare to bring it up for a man at the same age? If he was right then why would so many companies rather hire a young male candidate over a just as qualified female candidate? Or really the most important question: if men and women are equal then why are there so many men that use their power positions to abuse women? Why do they feel the right to do that and get away with it without punishment?
Let’s face it, men and women aren’t equal. The world we live in right now, men will never face the same discrimination that women are just based on their sex. A man claiming that these inequalities do not exist is the reason we are in the situation we are in. The situation differs for every society and also the extent of the progression made differs for every society but there is no one society in this world where men and women are 100% equal.
I like to believe that International Women’s Day is a bank holiday in my city to remind us that the fight isn’t over, the war isn’t won yet. I like to believe that my city is trying to encourage us to think about these inequalities and take a step in the right direction by making changes that we can, even if that is just to call out someone claiming that these inequalities do not exist.
Happy International Women’s Day to all of you beautiful, strong and fierce women out there. Go out there and keep your head up. I know it isn’t always easy but by empowering each other and by not giving up we can maybe someday achieve equality.