International Women’s Day — Why We Still Need It!

international-womens-dayMarch 8 is International Women’s Day. According to the official website for the day, this is “a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.”

I had no idea until I started researching that International Women’s Day has existed for over a century. For over 100 years we’ve had a day celebrating women and reminding us to work towards gender equality. Such a long time—surely it’s been effective and is now getting a bit redundant?

I mean it’s 2016, right? I’m finally consistently putting 2016 when I write out the date so it better be 2016. And in 2016 you’d think women would be doing pretty well, at least in industrialized nations. And hey, things have got to be getting better in developing nations too right? I mean with globalization and all of that. So really, why don’t we just say gender inequality is as good as solved? What’s the point of continuing to celebrate International Women’s Day (and, hey, where’s International Men’s Day! Ha-misandry!)

Ummm…no, but unfortunately there are people out there who think this way. So let’s throw out some numbers to learn what’s really going on and why our world still really, really needs International Women’s Day.

In 2014, the World Economic Forum predicted that we would not achieve global gender parity until 2095. What the hell, 2095? That’s a ridiculously long time to wait for something as fundamental as gender equality. But wait, there’s more. In 2015 the World Economic Forum revised their earlier statement and predicted that “a slowdown in the already glacial pace of progress meant the gender gap wouldn’t close entirely until 2133.”

2133!?! That’s like a made up year in a Disney Channel show or something. That’s like, almost Star Trek times! (At least we’ll have gender parity in space?)

It’s ridiculous and sad to think that in one year, closing the gender gap by 2095 became an unrealistic estimate. It seems naïve to say, “Hey that’s not fair!” But it’s not fair.

I’ve often heard the view that women complain too much: “Why can’t women just be happy with the gains they’ve made?” “Why do we have to talk about the war on women, rape culture, and the gender pay gap?”

The problem with the view that women complain too much is that what its proponents really mean is that when a woman opens her mouth she has already said too much. They think that when a woman points out a problem, she is out to destroy the world. They fear that when women gather together, they are plotting against men.

A woman’s voice has no place in patriarchy. If it must be heard, it must take on the words of the patriarchy. And patriarchy doesn’t want you to have justice if you are raped. It doesn’t want you to have access to an abortion unhindered by unnecessary and invasive ultrasounds. Patriarchy doesn’t want you to have a non-restroom place to pump breast milk at the Oscars.

Patriarchy is invested in women lacking the power to make decisions for their bodies, their families, and their futures. How else can they be effectively controlled?

This is 2016. It is estimated that we will not reach global gender parity for another 117 years. How can you help shorten this estimate? There are so many organizations and individuals out there working to make change in all sorts of ways. You don’t have to love your menstrual blood. You don’t have to have a cycle. You don’t have to be a woman. You can make a difference no matter who you are. How will you use your voice?

This year’s official theme for International Women’s Day is #PledgeForParity. Make your pledge here.

Brigid Taylor is a women’s health and rights advocate, a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, and an avid-reader. Years of accumulating seemingly random degrees and job experiences have created a well-spring of knowledge from which she is able to draw information relevant to feminism, health, relationships, and more. She lives in Pittsburgh, PA with a philosopher and a toddler.

 

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