Debate Magazine

Why Do We Still Need International Women’s Day?

Posted on the 15 March 2011 by Juliez

A week ago today (March 8th), countries around the world celebrated the hundredth anniversary of International Women’s Day. But surely, one hundred years after its conception, women don’t need their own special day anymore? What about an International Men’s Day, hmm?

The answer is that the 364 other days of the year belong to men. It’s more important than ever that a day specifically for women is celebrated: to see how far we have come, and to see how far we have to go.

No one can deny that in one hundred years, huge amounts have been achieved. When I woke up on Tuesday, I was proud to be an independent woman, able to live, work and travel freely, able to study at a university and be awarded a degree for my efforts. In Britain at least, many people believe that the fight is over.

So why do I believe that feminism is more relevant than ever? The statistics speak for themselves: 75% of civilians killed in war are women and children; one in four women will be a victim of domestic violence in her lifetime; one in five women will be a victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime; worldwide, 60 million girls are sexually assaulted at or en route to school every year.

Even just the fact that only 19% of MPs are women (in America, this figure is 16.5% for the whole of Congress) is shocking, and reflects the figure for the percentage of parliamentary seats held by women worldwide. It’s not easy to pinpoint exactly the reasons for this, or what we can do in the short term; it’s not a simple case of sexism or discrimination. The lack of women in high-powered jobs reflects on our society in general, and the expectations of women even today.

There are some countries where IWD is celebrated with much pomp, and where routine prejudice and discrimination against women is still tolerated. Fortunately, that is not the case in the UK. But with the Fawcett Society attempting to hold a judicial review against our government, because 72% of the cuts currently being implemented will directly affect women, we mustn’t forget the importance of feminism, on International Women’s Day and every day of the year.

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