Friday the 8th of March is International Women’s Day. It is also known as the United Nations (UN) Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace. This day has been held on the 8th of March annually since the early 1900s. It celebrates and supports equality, achievement and solidarity between women across the globe, whilst also recognising the struggle that women still face. Thousands of events occur not just on this day but throughout March to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women. Organisations, governments, charities, educational institutions, women’s groups, corporations and the media celebrate the day. Many groups around the world choose different themes each year relevant to global and local gender issues.
Various women, including political, community, and business leaders, as well as leading educators, inventors, entrepreneurs, and television personalities, are usually invited to speak at various events on the day. Such events may include seminars, conferences, luncheons, dinners or breakfasts. The messages given at these events often focus on various themes such as innovation, the portrayal of women in the media, or the importance of education and career opportunities.
Many students in schools and other educational settings participate in special lessons, debates or presentations about the importance of women in society, their influence, and issues that affect them. Many workplaces make a special mention about International Women’s Day through internal newsletters or notices, or by handing out promotional material focusing on the day. It’s important to celebrate International Women’s Day to see what issues are facing women.
Austerity policies imposed by the big banks and capitalist governments on a global level have meant increased misery for women. Women rely on social services because the work they do in the family and the household is unpaid. Providing child care and care for the elderly falls almost completely on the shoulders of women. But under capitalism, this work is considered “natural” and is expected to be performed by women without pay. This creates serious inequality, as many women must do unpaid labour and work a paying job as well – if they’re lucky enough to find a job.
Having more women in key decision-making places in political, economic and social decision-making at all levels in society is the way to move away from the sort of decision-making that has served us so poorly in recent years. Today we want a different approach, one that values each individual and the contribution they can make to build a better world. We can no longer put up with a world where it is acceptable to shoot a girl child for wanting to go to school, or to disregard the crime of rape against a woman who just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. We thought the campaign for equality was about low pay, discrimination, humiliation or glass ceilings in the work place, or by hunger and poverty. But it’s more, all too often it is a classic case of oppression and repression. Building a better world is about allowing each person to flourish and fulfil their potential – nothing else will do.
International Women’s Day was established 100 years ago to press for the demands of women to vote, be trained, hold public office and to end discrimination. 100 years later clearly a lot has changed for many women in many countries. However, there is still a very long way to go before all women realise the commitment made in the Universal Declaration Human Rights, adopted in 1948, that, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”.