Happy International Women's Day!
It's clear that we need International Women's Day more than ever after recent reports that COVID-19 has set women back decades.
"Didn't we just have one of these?", "Isn't this just an opportunity for 'feminists' to hate men?", "Do we really need International Women's Day?" - For those people who said that, I'm writing this for you.
First, some people think that International Women's Day is only for women and therefore anti-male.
Let me clarify this for you. International Women's Day is unisex - everyone is welcome. This day is about gender equality, and in order to achieve that, we must elevate women. This is a fact. It's also known as Civic Awareness Day, Anti-Sexism Day, and Anti-Discrimination Day, terms that some people prefer.
Another common misconception I witness is that this day was conceived by a bunch of millennials who wanted to yell at men.
Again, let me get straight to the point. International Women's Day has been celebrated every year since 1911 - for more than 100 years. Now, its dual message is the same as when it began - celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, while also calling for action to accelerate gender equality.
"International Women's Day is a collective day to celebrate and call for gender equality around the world," says the official International Women's Day website. “International Women’s Day is about solidarity, celebration, reflection, advocacy and action – whatever may seem global at the local level. But one thing is for sure, International Women’s Day has been around for over a century – And it's still growing.
"But why can't you celebrate International Women's Day and I can't celebrate International Men's Day?" a male friend of mine asked me earnestly last week.
This is a question that I think is difficult for many people to accept, so to him and you, I say: because we are not equal.
We live in a world that prioritizes men and, as announced last year, we are 100 years away from achieving true gender equality. To get to that stage, we have to push women as hard as possible and amplify their voices. That's what International Women's Day is all about.
Once we're on equal footing, we can question whether the International Day is necessary, but until then, I'll use the annual celebration to admire the incredible women around me, marvel at how far we've come, and at the same time Calling for inequality and how far we have to go.
"I personally don't feel any discrimination," a female friend of mine told me. "All the men around me treat me equally, so I don't think I should mark the day."
Here's another important misconception about International Women's Day - it's not about individuals, it's about women around the world.
We may be lucky enough to live in a "sane" system where our gender doesn't seem to hold us back on a daily basis, but what about our international sisters? Women in Nigeria, where the law allows men to beat their wives “for the sake of correction,” women in Malta, where men are reportedly exempt from punishment if they marry a woman, and child marriage of girls are still legal in more than 100 countries. These women are now trying to make their voices heard, and they need our help.
If you don't want to celebrate for yourself, at least consider celebrating International Women's Day for them. Together, we can continue the conversation and move closer to gender equality.
Today, we are not selling anyting, we just wanna celebrate.
Happy International Women's Day!