Blog for International Women’s Day

Banner for Blog for International Women's Day. Banner consists of an image of planet Earth, tinted purple, on a black background. Beneath the globe reads the words "Blog for International Women's Day", and "Equal Rights, Equal Opportunity".Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day. Gender Across Borders is hosting a Blog for International Women’s Day, and one of their prompt questions asks: What does “equal rights for all” mean to you?

I, for once, will keep it relatively short.

International Women’s Day is essentially a day of symbolism. Many use it as a day of activism, solidarity, or reflection, but the world cannot be changed in a day. So symbolism is still at its core. In its own way, that can certainly be a valuable and worthwhile thing.

But it is useless for even that much if it does not recognize and center all women, including and especially those who are most vulnerable and commonly forgotten. International Women’s Day is useless if it does not recognize and respect both the womanhood and humanity of women who are trans, and dedicate to fighting for their rights and basic safety. International Women’s Day is useless if it does not include and remember women who have disabilities, and work for their essential rights and towards creating greater inclusion and accessibility within our own communities. International Women’s Day is useless if it does not center poor women all over the globe, including those in developing countries, who are struggling against hunger and violence. International Women’s Day is useless if it overlooks the rights and safety of those suffering the greatest violence, including (in addition to those listed above) sex workers, trafficking victims, and slaves. International Women’s Day is utterly pointless if it does not include and explicitly welcome women of all races and ethnicities, sexual orientations, ages, immigration statuses, religions, and nationalities; remember that women have multiple aspects to their identities, and “woman” does not necessarily come first; support the work that women are already doing; and give the bulk of its attention to those who need it most.

In other words, International Women’s Day is useless if it does not include all of the women who are reading this blog right now. And International Women’s Day has failed worst of all if it only includes women who are able to read this blog right now. Because a day that is not about equal rights for all is a day that is necessarily not actually about women, but a day about only some women.

And that is something that all of us can stand to remember in our daily activism, as well.

Check out the full list of blogs participating in the Blog for IWD and/or sign up your own blog as participant.

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5 comments for “Blog for International Women’s Day

  1. March 8, 2010 at 10:39 am

    Perhaps I should have saved this comment for today, but last night’s Oscar Win is pretty nice timing, no?

  2. March 8, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    Pathfinder International works everyday in over 25 countries to help the women you refer to in this piece. If you’re looking for a simple action you can take to celebrate International Women’s Day check out Every time someone shares the videos on the site with a friend, $1 is donated to Pathfinder International to support reproductive health care for women and girls worldwide.

  3. CQ
    March 8, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    1. Thanks for this great post on IWD. I was struck by this line: “International Women’s Day is useless if it does not center poor women all over the globe, including those in developing countries, who are struggling against hunger and violence.” Agreed, but I think we need to remember that we have women struggling against hunger and violence in developed countries too. It’s not a critique of what you’re writing — more just a reaction that in my world (international public health/international development), we seem to mark IWD with feel-good photos of brown-skinned women in brightly colored clothing, taking a moment to think about the poverty of their lives. Every day, as I walk to my office building to do my international development/health job for a major university, I pass women on the street, on my bus, etc. who are struggling with poverty and violence.

    2. I would like to second Amina’s post above. I used to work for Pathfinder, and can vouch for the good work they are doing! It’s great to see Pathfinder getting their name out there more frequently these days!

  4. March 9, 2010 at 12:01 am

    Oh, this is a wonderful post, Cara! Very well done.

  5. March 9, 2010 at 1:43 am

    It is International, yes? You might want to recognize more international causes of inequality besides race.

    Feminism – a 21st century manifesto
    Written by Lindsey German
    Sunday, 07 March 2010 09:39 – Last Updated Sunday, 07 March 2010 18:40
    There have been very great changes in women’s lives in
    the past few decades – but there is still much to fight for.
    Here is my manifesto for a 21st century feminism.
    1. Globalisation and neo liberalism have had a profound effect on the lives of millions of
    women. Capitalism itself has created new forms and manifestations of women’s oppression.
    2. Women’s oppression is a product of class society which has existed for thousands of
    years. It was only with the development of capitalism that large numbers of women developed a
    consciousness of their position and the ability to do something about it.
    3. Women have been drawn into the workforce in millions but working in factories, offices
    and shops has not led to an improvement in women’s lives far less to liberation. Women suffer
    exploitation at work as well as still shouldering the double burden of family and childcare as well
    as paid work.
    4. Women’s traditional role as wives and mothers has not disappeared but has been
    reinvented to fit in with the needs of exploitation. They are now expected to juggle all aspects of
    their lives and are blamed as individuals for any failings in family or work life.
    5. The talk of glass ceilings and unfairly low bonuses for women bankers miss the point
    about liberation, which is that liberation has to be for all working women and not just a tiny
    number of privileged women.
    6. Although all women suffer oppression and face discrimination, their life experiences are
    radically different. Women are not united as a sex but are divided on the basis of class. Middle
    and upper class women share in the profits from the exploitative system in which we live and
    use this benefit to alleviate their own oppression. Working class women are usually the people
    who cook, clean and provide personal services for these women, receiving low wages and often
    neglecting their own families to do so.
    7. Women are more than ever regarded as objects defined by their sexuality. The
    commercialisation of sexuality with its lad and ladette culture, its pole dancing clubs and its
    post-modern Miss World contests keeps women being judged as sex objects as if nothing has
    changed since the 1950s.
    8. This objectification, alongside women’s role as supposedly the property of men, leads to
    domestic violence, rape and sexual abuse. This abuse is under recognised and under reported.
    It was only in the 1960s and 70s that these issues began to be viewed as political.
    9. To control their own lives, women must control their own bodies and sexuality.
    10. Capitalist ideology prioritises the family and the subordinate role of women and children
    within it, while at the same time forcing individual members of the family to sacrifice ‘family life’
    1 / 2
    Feminism – a 21st century manifesto
    Written by Lindsey German
    Sunday, 07 March 2010 09:39 – Last Updated Sunday, 07 March 2010 18:40
    because of the pressures of work and migration.
    11. The priorities of the profit system and the existence of the privatised family means that
    women’s oppression is structured into capitalism. Any genuine liberation has to be connected to
    a wider movement for human emancipation and for working people to control the wealth that
    they produce. That’s why women and men have to fight for liberation. Socialism and women’s
    liberation are inextricably connected.
    12. We will not win without a fight. Every great social movement raises the question of
    women. In the 19th century the movement for women’s emancipation took its name from the
    movement to abolish slavery. In the 20th century women’s liberation took its name from the
    movements against colonialism around the world. 21st century women’s liberation has to fight to
    change the world and to end the class society which created oppression and exploitation in the
    first place.

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