Today, Wednesday March 8th 2017, is “International Women’s’ Day“.
I have seen it all over social media with Instagram images, Twitter trends, Facebook updates and quotes about strong, independent women; I’ve heard about it on the radio and on TV with reports of “women around the world going on strike”; and I’ve participated in conversation and heated debates about the subject. Hearing so many views on International Women’s’ Day has been eye opening to say the least and it’s great to hear people passionately discussing it. No one’s opinion is right or wrong. It’s just their own.
I’m all for equality for women and men. Neither is greater than the other. Both can achieve the same. Both should have fair and equal rights. We need both men and women to exist. So I believe we should coexist in balanced harmony. However, International Women’s’ Day seems to be a controversial topic and the words feminism and sexism have been floating around a lot today.
Feminism is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.” Whereas sexism is defined in the same dictionary as “prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but these are two very different concepts, yet they’ve both been bounced around in conversation today in relation to International Women’s Day.
Being female myself, I agree that women should be recognised as equivalent to men. History has shown us that this hasn’t always been the case in the past, with women once being denied the freedom to vote, amongst other things. This was an example of sexism or unfair treatment based on gender. But times have changed. I’m sure you are familiar with the story of the Suffragettes (if not, go and read about it now!) They were an extraordinary group of women who changed society’s beliefs and values about women’s’ rights, leading to the modern day gender equality that we now know. This was feminism – advocating for equal rights for women.
So why have I heard both being discussed today?
There have been conflicting views about International Women’s’ Day. Some saying it is sexism – Why should there be a day dedicated to women, yet not one also dedicated to men? Others saying that it is a display of feminism, celebrating strong women and women’s’ rights.
I can relate to both views on some level. I think it is great to celebrate the achievements of women… but also the achievements of men! I kind of disagree with having a day dedicated to celebrating women without a day also dedicated to celebrating men. International Women’s’ Day has received a lot of media attention with almost everyone having some awareness of it. However, until researching it (and this may surprise you too), I wasn’t even aware of International Men’s’ Day, which will be celebrated on Sunday November 19th. It seems madness to me that it appears to be far less widely known than its female counterpart.
In an ideal world, maybe we should advocate for an “International Gender Equality Day” instead. Or perhaps we should just forget about gender and simply celebrate “International Humanity Day” – a day of recognition and appreciation of all of the incredible similarities and differences, achievements and strength, of the entire human race, so let’s celebrate the diversity and wonder of humanity together instead!