On Why I Support International Women’s Day

Having spent a good portion of my day reading about the issues that women face today and wondering what I should do to mark the occasion, I had a hard time narrowing it down. Should I make a list of brilliant women in the world today, or in history? Photographers, politicians, movie stars, musicians, activists, scientists, authors, writers, actresses, artists, educators, athletes, inventors etc.? Surely a simple Google search can do that. Or maybe a list of women’s causes that need greater awareness, and where the rights of women fall down compared to those of men? A series of photographs of great women? Or an essay on third-world mentality and degradation of women, the lack of education? The continued ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia, sexual identity, domestic violence, genital mutilation, objectification, that people still believe it is right that women “know their place” and live by predetermined roles carved by a historic injustice, that women receive a lesser education than their male counterparts, earn less and are treated with less respect?

I am irked by those chauvinists who feel this way and attempt to defend it by calling it “traditionalism”. Instead they are adhering to culturally inherited gender stereotypes, whereas the idea of pigeonholing people makes me feel completely ill at ease. A short rounded rant is how I will commemorate this day. A small contribution and show of support for women everywhere who do not get fair treatment simply because they are women.

On this, the 101st International Women’s Day, it is a day in which we must be reminded again that women are still treated as second-class citizens in a variety of ways. It is days like this, and the fight for equality for everyone, which further my dislike of the idea of “traditionalism”: traditions are being eradicated and changed continually and we, as humans, are constantly evolving and improving how we treat each other.

Wikipedia states that “in many regions, the day lost its political flavour, and became simply an occasion for men to express their love for women in a way somewhat similar to a mixture of Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day”, and while this is beautiful, the political reasons for this day must not be lost. That human rights are for everyone, that men are no better than women and equality must reign. This isn’t the case for most of Western society, however, it is still a mentality which exists for many, and certainly in much of the developing world. For over 100 years women have fought for the right to vote, for better pay, better working conditions, a greater say in politics, greater access to health-care, and to be free from abuse, being forced to work in the sex trade and to live without fear of sexual assault and rape. The problems of equality for women are still wide-reaching, from ,

In a world where 70% of the world’s poor are women, Google informs us that “women perform two-thirds of the world’s work and produce half the world’s food, but earn just 10% of the income and own 1% of the property.” Yet in the UK “men still earn more than women in nearly 90% of job categories, according to analysis by the Guardian“.

In egypt there are only 9 women MPs — less than 1%, down from 12% under President Mubarak, and David Cameron’s government has only appointed only 21 women out of 119 ministers. In Northern Ireland there is still a lack a women in local politics, with only 15.1% of women representing Irish seats taken by women, and 22.3% overall in the UK [source] and only one in six of the Assembly candidates in the 2011 Northern Ireland election were female.

Until trafficking of women to prop up the sex tourism industry ends, there’s a need for International Women’s Day. Until girls from all over the world are given the same educational opportunities, there’s a need for International Women’s Day. Until society stamps out domestic violence and sexual harassment against women, there’s a need for International Women’s Day. And until conservative American political commentators learn “slut” [Rush Limbaugh calls student, Sandra Fluke, a "slut" after she spoke in favor of requiring private insurance plans to cover contraception] isn’t an appropriate term to label intellectual females who challenge their narrow-minded views, there’s a need for International Women’s Day. — Tom Fearon at CRIEnglish

As Bidisha states in an article titled ‘Who are you calling a lady‘, “Women are women. We are not laydees, babes, chicks, foxes, bitches, sluts, whores or anything else.”

I love women. In a completely non-condescending way, of course. There are many great women who have shaped me and had a great influence on my life, but above all, I believe in equal rights for all people: human rights. As well as basic human rights and discrimination, overarching culturally accepted sexism is still a large problem in society, and one which must also be fought.