The 8th of this month marks International Women’s Day, and while I’ve always viewed this as a nice opportunity to spotlight women’s achievements across history, recent reflection of the occasion has made me wonder whether we’re missing the point.
Founded in 1909 by a group of socialist women, International Women’s Day has its roots in demands, action, and protest. Back then, women were fighting for better pay, shorter hours, and voting rights. We’ve come a long way and made immeasurable improvements, but we needn’t overshadow this urge for action with a pat on the head for all of our achievements so far, when there’s still so much work to do.
Every girl I know regularly practices behavioural changes to avoid harassment/assault. You carry your keys in-between your fingers when walking through quiet areas, you change your outfit because you can’t be bothered to be shouted at, you don’t go running in the winter because it’s dark early, you only wear headphones in one ear so you can hear if someone’s behind you, you ignore staring or harassment to avoid triggering a bigger threat, you get shots not long drinks on a night out in case they get spiked, you tell men you have a boyfriend because the idea of another man is often the only thing they respect enough to leave you alone. I could go on, because these practices are embedded in every area of life for women, even on 8 March and when you’re making up phone calls with an imaginary man who’s coming to pick you up, it becomes a bit difficult to enjoy this day of celebration.
Of course we should celebrate achievements, and how lucky we are to be allowed to vote and wear trousers, but we should do that all year round, especially the achievements of those who have had to fight harder to reach them, but let’s not let this become yet another day dedicated to corporations who want to show how inclusive they are. We need to keep up the fight and acknowledge our merits at the same time as we acknowledge everyone else’s.
If you’re looking for a way to take action this IWD, visit: