By Jihan Anwer
“Men are taught to apologize for their weaknesses, women for their strengths.” ~Lois Wyse
Did you know that International Women’s Day actually started out as the International Working Women’s Day?
It was a gesture from the Socialist Party in the United States of America to show appreciation for the women’s working class and to recognize their contribution to society with their social, political and economical involvement. It was first celebrated on 28 February 1909 (later it corresponded to 8 March in the Gregorian calendar) and became gradually adopted around the world till it was established by the United Nation as International Women’s Day in 1977.
How ironic is it that the 8th of March has now become the day in which women and international organizations denounce the pain and suffering of women around the world?
While the first celebration aimed at recognizing the value of women, the current festivity seems to bring to the surface and show to the world the injustice and abuse women throughout the world face, often on a daily basis.
From domestic violence to unequal treatment at the workplace, to lack of empowerment from the law and prevention from acquiring education (and therefore, the luxury to choose a career), all these issues are brought to the public attention in one day. And we haven’t yet mentioned gender-based harassment, early marriages or the simple right for a baby female to live.
It’s as if the first holiday had been a gift, while the current international day is the attempt of women to engage men in a dialogue, open their eyes to the fact that it’s difficult to celebrate while all these challenges still go on. Those responsible for the injustice that women go through are often men. Consider early marriages, harassment, domestic violence, it’s usually the result of men’s doing. Among lawmakers and employees men are overwhelmingly the majority.
This seems to mean that there will never be a change in the state of women if men themselves don’t modify their behavior and mentality. Be it culture, tradition or plain fear of empowering women, societies often try to confine women and brainwash them into thinking that they’re only fit for certain roles.
Will there come a day when women will be allowed to celebrate their achievements on International Women’s Day without having to point out how their rights as human beings and as women have been violated?
I believe men share responsibility in making that happen.