The 8th of March is the day to celebrate women, but what are we celebrating exactly? The fact that we are not men? Or maybe the fact that we need a day to feel like queens without being second to anyone else? We still live in a highly patriarchal world, and the fact that in only 22 countries women cover positions such as Head of State or Government proves that. So, is this particular day here to make us feel important? Do we need a day to feel like we are worth something? Why can’t we always feel that way? Is International Women’s Day a sexist holiday?
Women’s history has had a rather complex journey, and this is yet to be finished. Yes, women should be generally considered equals to men, but the truth is that much work still needs to be done. Every day we hear of discrimination against women in the workplace – she was not hired because she is pregnant, she was paid less than her male co-workers. We read about women being abused, not only physically but also mentally.
However, we could say that the world is, in general, a dangerous place and that not all people are good, meaning that even men and other minorities can be discriminated against because of many different reasons. Ranging from their religion to the color of their skin. What we must realize is that we all have something in us that could possibly make us the target of some kind of discrimination. We just can’t let it get to us.
The Perfect Balance of Sun and Rain…
In March, spring begins, which I consider the most beautiful season, and it’s the perfect month to celebrate women. Because we deserve to be celebrated. Our ancestors fought, like flowers blooming, with all of their strength and beauty. They fought for the right to bloom, to make their voices, our voices, be heard. Change doesn’t happen in the blink of an eye, it takes time and determination.
Just like the sun and the rain balance each other in the spring so that flowers can grow and compose a breathtaking landscape, women and men should collaborate with each other so that the world can be as beautiful as ever. But if there’s too much sun or too much rain, the flowers don’t grow as pretty and strong as they could. The same is for our society, if men and women don’t treat each other equally, nothing is like it should.
…Makes Flowers Bloom Again
Many are the women dismissing the 8th of March as a sexist holiday. Why do we celebrate women – they wonder – and not men? If the point of everything is to achieve equality, then they should be celebrated as well. And they are, on the 19th of November, only no one seems to remember it. However, we have to understand that there is nothing wrong with being diverse.
Lately, diversity is being honored much more than it ever was. Minorities are starting to get recognized and appreciated, or at least they are heading that way. We seem to like the world as it is – wide and full of different cultures and traditions. So, why do we encourage that kind of diversity but convict the one between men and women? Because it is true, we are different. Although, being different does not imply that one is worth more than the other. Women had to fight for what they have today, they had to sweat and work hard and push through boundaries, while men just had it easy.
On the 8th of March, men buy flowers as a gift for women. The association of this particular festivity with flowers originated in Italy, when in 1946 the Italian’s Women Union celebrated the first International Women’s Day exchanging mimosas. This yellow flower represents strength, sensibility, and sensitivity and the fight to achieve gender equality. We could say that some sexist stereotypes can be found in this idea, like why are women so often associated with flowers and sensibility? Most men wouldn’t be defined by these two concepts. However, now more than ever, a word ‘stolen’ from the male vocabulary is used in relation to women – strength. And this might represent one more step towards gender equality.
Celebrate Who Fought For Your Freedom
Instead of feeling skeptical about this festivity, we should be proud and celebrate what is the core of this day. Sometimes, young women like me, who were raised in a safe and fairly equal world, where most of the time women are considered as much as men, are not grateful. We don’t really understand what hiding in the dark means, what being ignored and feeling powerless might be like. But less than a hundred years ago, that’s how most women felt. Their voices had no importance and their screams were simply ignored. But they fought, and they did it with passion, love, and commitment. They did it for us. They died for us.
And to those who still watch from the bench, I would like to say something – defending someone else’s rights does not mean losing yours, it means deciding to share your freedom.
So it’s necessary that just like we spend days remembering other wars, we spend a day remembering this one. Because it was a war, and it still is. We are not done fighting and who knows if we’ll ever be. What matters, however, is that we are not doing it alone – plenty of men fight beside women to help them achieve equality. And to those who still watch from the bench, I would like to say something – defending someone else’s rights does not mean losing yours, it means deciding to share your freedom.
Cover: Anna Zakharova
Edited by: Cecilia Begal