I’ve always been against the annual International Women’s Day on March 8th.
I couldn’t stop thinking about how a day like this makes women sound like some endangered species, and I found that idea intensely disturbing.
And yet last year, I took the time to reflect on the meaning of this day, and I must say that I regret my past comments and views. Because beyond the marketing aspect – (yes, March 8th is apparently a perfect day for department stores to push their latest blender or dishwasher our way 😉 – this day is actually dedicated to brave women who fought for women’s rights.
So it should be more precisely called “International Women’s Rights Day“.
For me, International Women’s Day is not about feminism but rather a day that highlights the struggles of hundreds of women around the world. In fact, it was proposed for the first time by women’s rights advocates Luise Zietz and Clara Zetkin at the 1910 Socialist Women’s Conference. Seven years later on March 8th, Russian women in St. Petersburg led a strike demanding the end of World War I, an end to Russian food shortages, and the end of czarism. And henceforth was born today’s observance of March 8th International Women’s Day.
Thanks these pioneering women, a world of opportunity has been opened for many of us.
While they ended their lives in prison or were shot by police, we have the freedom to read (and write blogs like this one!), to exercise our freedom of speech and voice our agreements or disagreements on various social and political issues.
In the West, women can vote – and even if this sounds obvious today, this was not the case for places like Switzerland as recently as thirty years ago!
We have the freedom to work, to be financially independent, and to make our own choices in life without anyone dictating particular rules, for the most part.
We also have the freedom to take care of our bodies and to join programs which improve our health in numerous ways. Because we have been granted free choice, we truly have the power to make our lives yet more and more beautiful.
So, on this year’s International Women’s Day, I’d like to offer a big thank you from the bottom of my heart to all those women whose battles and sometimes tragic deaths have enabled me to live comfortably today with rights that seemed impossible back in 1870: to have a bank account, to vote, to choose a husband, to choose to have a child or not, to work or not, to be unionized or not, to hold political opinions that oppose those of my husband’s or not, to raise my child as I wish, to have a home, to dress as I wish (skirt, pants, short or long), to earn equal wages (not there yet but making progress), and to write what I want on this incredible exchange tool which we call the World Wide Web.
Note: in many corners of the world (and not necessarily that far from where you and I live) women’s rights are still being denied. Support the struggle of women in these countries! An organization I personally support with all my heart is www.awid.org.
Be kind, be strong, be yourself!
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