Why We Still Need International Women's Day!

Yesterday was International Women’s Day and while I was so thrilled and empowered to see so many posts flood my Instagram and Facebook celebrating the day and all the strong and amazing women it stands for, there were of course the few, but hugely infuriating posts asking "Why there isn’t an International Men’s Day?" or "Do we really need an International Women’s Day in 2016?"

Judging from social media responses, where a photo of avocado on toast gets five times as many likes as a post advocating International Women’s Day, it seems that a lot of people either don’t care, are on the fence on how they feel about the day, or are embarrassed to show their support for it. Because of this response I thought it was important to write an article detailing some of the reasons why International Women’s Day is still so heartbreakingly relevant and needed in 2016.

The day is designed to "Mark the economic, political and social achievements of women" which in itself is a hugely important aim for a multitude of reasons:

  • Female achievements are so often forgotten and remain uncelebrated
  • Female achievements are inherently harder to achieve simply because of gender inequality
  • Recognition of women in our everyday lives who work continuously against the patriarchy
  • And finally, past female achievements remind women of possibilities that lie beyond what society tells us is out of our reach, inspiring us to break the boundaries that society confines us in.

The day not only serves as a reminder and celebration of female achievements, but also reminds us that, with women earning £300 000 less than men in a lifetime in the UK and 54 000 women per year experiencing pregnancy discrimination, there is still a long way to go until we reach gender equality. The very existence of an International Women’s Day is a sad reminder that female celebration is a rarity and needs specific acknowledgement.

No one is saying that the 8th March is the only day to celebrate women’s achievements. The day instead calls attention to the lack of celebration and prompts us to continually work the other 364 days of the year for gender equality, so that ultimately International Women’s Day won’t need to exist.

Although its aim is to mark the accomplishments of women and celebrate female achievement, International Women’s Day does so much more than this – it acts as a platform to talk about serious gender issues that so often go under the radar. Even if you yourself do not feel personally affected by gender discrimination or violence, this day is a chance to show solidarity with those who do, and with 2 women every week being murdered by a partner or ex-partner in the UK, it is painstakingly clear that it effects far far too many women.

(Photo Credit: The Independent)

I also really want to stress the "international" in International Women’s Day, this day is not only for white middle-class women and freeing the nipple, the wage gap and the tampon tax (although these issues are pertinent and insidious), but also about FGM, child marriages, female infanticide – issues that aren’t as much discussed in most of our everyday lives. Perhaps most importantly International Women’s Day raises awareness about these worldwide issues, in the hope of awareness leading to change.

Although gender is a social construct, you only have to listen to a conversation or look outside to know that society hasn’t yet caught on to this. From this social construct, gender inequalities arise and it is these gender inequalities that International Women’s Day seeks to acknowledge and fight.

These are only a few of the hundreds of reasons why International Women’s Day is still pertinent in 2016, so take inspiration from yesterday and celebrate all the amazing, strong and wise women in our lives every day – may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them! So for the next 364 days, let’s continue to dismantle the gender myth and smash the patriarchy!

Why We Still Need International Woman’s Day!