Celebrating women for a day

Here is an article I wrote for Hindustan Times a couple of years ago. For my readers in India, let me know if things have changed for the better on the streets, in the houses, at work …

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In 1909 some women textile workers in New York went on strike. After thirteen weeks of relentless opposition they won for themselves shorter working hours, better pay and a right to unionize. This uprising in those bleak times was recognized by marking March 8 as International Women’s Day.

One day out of 365 to appreciate women and all they do.

It wasn’t till Ponds’ publicized the celebrations on the telly did I come to know of the festivities across the globe. I felt happy. Here I was, a sixteen year old studying in an all girls’ institution exchanging spirited Archie’s cards on a solemn occasion. The significance of the day for me? We got free candies!

Apart from that one treat, everything else remained the same. I carried the same 4-kilo bag to school. I attended the same boring chemistry and physics lectures. I came back home to have the same daal-roti. And ended the day doing the same math homework.

Was it any different for my mom? Not with her nine-to-five office routine and household chores. She even wondered aloud while watching TV one day, “What’s all the fuss about?”

And really, what is it about this one day that is so special for you and me? Is it that the male species puts a pause on violating women on this particular day? Is it that women are spared obnoxious looks or comments while crossing streets? Do men stop touching us without our consent in crowded buses and trains? Are we given the dignity we have a right to at our workplace or our homes? Are we taken seriously, even if for a day?

Or really is it just a symbolic day to continue the fight that was started a century ago?

And what happens the morning after? You browse through your newspaper and find coverage on demonstrations for women’s rights, inaugurations of women’s exhibitions, celebration of the spirit of being a woman! And right beside these extensively glorified news items there’s a small nondescript column – 16-year-old gang raped in Satoha district.

Seven years hence television channels continue to celebrate the ongoing struggle of women in every corner of the world. I feel sad.

Who needs a reason?

I, for one, do not need a day to make me feel special. I know I am.

I do not want to be treated like a queen for a mere 24 hours. I rule my world every day and I do it with pride.

I do not demand respect at work or at home as an excuse on 8th March. I deserve it each day.

I do not want equality for I am not competing. I know I am superior. And this I say on the basis of my stronger genetic make up.

I do not want any honors bestowed upon me to mark an occasion. I am a woman – and that’s honor enough.

Maybe we could just do away with International Women’s Day and institute an International Men’s Day. Father’s Day sure has its contenders but what about a day that recognizes men, regardless of their paternal status? I wonder why we don’t have one date set aside to celebrate the spirit of “manhood”? Or is it that men can be celebrated only when they become fathers?

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Celebrating women for a day

  1. Finally after 20yrs of my being aware of IWD (International Women’s Day), I came to know the real reason behind the origin of IWD. Thanks to your article!

    It is indeed an important marker, and it should remain there till women get the equal ‘treatment’ in our minds as men. It is a symbolic event. Today I know that IWD is not to celebrate womanhood, but in fact it is to celebrate an effort to reduce the gender gap which is rampant in various aspects of our lives. In turn to remind us that such efforts are required even after 100 yrs of that remarkable incidence.

    We do not have International Men’s Day because there has not been any incidence in the past where men showed a spirit to overcome any gender specific social obstacle.

    So why do we have father’s day: it is not because men become special after becoming father. It is because, children are amazingly logical. For them, if there is a mother’s day for a reason (love), there has to be a father’s day for the same reason. That is it. You can not argue with them on this. In other words, mother’s day is not same as IWD. They are two different events caused by different reasons with different purpose for different audience (one is for daughters and sons all over the world; and the other is for women all over the world).

  2. Unfortunately, far too many women and girls in the world still live below the level of livestock. It is for this reason I am glad we have markers to remind us that there is still rampant inequality in the world and attention needs to be paid to bring about more balance. I celebrate black history month, women’s history month, International Woman’s day, V-day, and any other period that reminds us to bring our focus back to the need for further equality and awareness.
    We humans tend to get distracted.

    Respectfully,

    Aine
    http://theevolvingspirit.blogspot.com

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