Is it me or is International Women’s Day losing its meaning? Last Friday, I felt a certain ennui reading all the self-serving contributions from political and business leaders. Are we turning our backs on what the Day should represent?
The official site is sponsored by BP, another energy company, and financial institutions, with “gender equality” pages published by accountancy firms, media businesses and government (as well as charities and special interest groups).
I know the arguments: the involvement of big business is crucial because it’s the only way women’s interests won’t be sidelined, because only big business has the klout to make policies which give women equal opportunities and pay. That women who are successful in business will make their effect felt in politics and boardrooms around the world.
But “family-friendly policies” make not one iota of difference to the basic premise that multinationals are not person-friendly or planet-friendly, let alone woman friendly.
Perhaps I’m just hankering after the heady idealism of the days when the personal was political and we were going to reform the world, not join the enemy!
Left-wing media in the UK didn’t disappoint on Friday, with a couple of interesting contributions from The Guardian which particularly caught my eye. The first was an interactive timeline map of the world showing when each women in each country got the right to vote, to stand for election and when the first woman was elected. It’s very interesting. Click here to take a look.
The second Guardian piece was a series of interviews with women and men around the world on the topic of gender violence. I haven’t read them all, but there are some incredibly moving stories, told by courageous people.
HuffPost came up trumps with a piece called 7 Sadly Disturbing Truths About Women’s Bodies (HOW YOU CAN HELP) which does exactly what it says on the tin, covering horrors like female genital mutilation, rape and infant mortality AND giving some suggestions for action.
On the blogs
It seems I’m not the only party pooper on the topic of International Women’s Day.
Echidne of the Snakes begins a really interesting post (with some good links) thus:
The meaning of this day seems to be changing to something a little like Mothers’ Day. I spot people congratulating women on this day and such. That’s not the intention of the day. It also feeds directly into the argument that having a day for women but not a special set-aside day for men is sexist.
Read the whole thing here.
And Emily Lakdawalla has this to say in the same context:
For me, celebrating me or any other woman today only serves to emphasize that to be a woman is still considered to be “other.” It should not be exceptional that I am a woman in science; it should not be something worth celebrating. It should just be. The fact that it is still considered exceptional and something about which awareness needs to be raised with a special day is something I want to mourn, not celebrate.
To read the whole post click here.
On a lighter note, British feminist blog The F Word tells us the story of early 20th century Liverpool footballer Lily Parr, “the woman with a kick like a mule, a chain-smoking habit, and as many career goals as Pele…” I love hearing stories about women like this. Read it here.
And finally, at Feministe I found the song One Woman – singers and musicians coming together from around the world to sing with one voice. Here’s the video
(link here for email subscribers who can’t see it above)
That’s all for now. Let me know what you think of International Women’s Day, and have a great week everyone!
Photo credit: Caro Spark