Today on March 8th, is International Women’s Day. The first International Women’s Day was in 1913 in Russia, sparking off the “The February Revolution” (as it February 23rd in the Russian calendar). It is now recognised by the United Nations and is celebrated in 27 countries either as an official holiday, a holiday for women only, or an unofficial holiday (similar to Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day). Since 1996, International Women’s Day has a particular theme to focus on. The theme for 2014 is “Inspiring Change”.
Before I discuss the ideas from International Women’s Day, I will mention the cynics. These aren’t particularly male misogynistic pigs who believe women are only good for having sex with or having your house cleaned. These are people who feel that feminism and women’s rights campaigns are no longer relevant in modern society, and feel that feminists are man-hating lesbian extremists who hate anything pink. Of course, rights for men need to be addressed such as equal parental rights, but unfortunately women have more problems to overcome. Also, I also acknowledge that some feminists are too militant and pedantic for some people’s liking. But remember not every feminist is like that. My opinion is just because we have achieved voting rights and have more liberation thanks to campaigns in the 20th century, doesn’t mean everything is sorted.
Firstly, we need to give reproductive rights to women, including contraception, sex education, optional abortions, and more legal rights for victims of sexual assault and trafficking. Secondly, more career opportunities in science, business and the media, and more employment rights for women on maternity leave, and actual equal level of pay. Thirdly, more recognition of women in sports and the liberal arts, and encourage young girls to participate in both from a young age. Fourthly, more rights for women in the developing world. And lastly, we as a society change the way we think about sex and gender, including regarding male as the subject and the female as the other in a binary code. Not only that we must teach that just because you’re female does not make you inferior to who you are, what you say or what you do.
Of course, we must celebrate what we have achieved so far. Because 100 years ago, I wouldn’t even dream of being in college, let alone pursue a career in journalism. (Being neurologically disabled and from a farming background would also be factors but let’s not think about that right now). But why stop there? We can achieve so much more than we already have.