I wrote last year that I hate International Women’s Day. It resonated with so many of you that here I am, writing it again. Why?! Because nothing has changed.
Oh, wait. Actually some things have changed. Let me tell you how. Things have gotten WORSE.
But aren’t we closer to equality, you think?! I would have thought so too. And yet, the world’s gender gap has gotten wider.
In 2020, we needed 100 years to close the gap. Now we need 136 years. Anyone planning to be around for this event — for the long-overdue closing of a gap that should have never existed in the first place?! I will not. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to get angry. I’m still angry.
So let’s bring out another International Women’s Day — because, if we dedicate one-day-a-year to fighting for equality, I’m sure things will move that.much.faster. Why don’t you smile, girls?! 136 years is just around the corner!
Rinse and repeat.
So, here I say again: I hate International Women’s Day. I hate the one-day-every-year that we are supposed to remind ourselves of how far we’ve come — and how far we’ve got to go for equality. Did we need reminding? Even worse to be told “happy” International Women’s Day. What, precisely, is “happy” about it? We are still not equal. How can I be happy about that?
WTF is International Women’s Day, anyway?! Quick history lesson: International Women’s Day started in 1911, when women — and men — took to the streets to demand rights for women to work, to vote, and to hold public office. It’s important, no doubt, but here we are — 111 years later — still making very similar demands!
And, arguably, losing ground.
Quick reality check: All around the world, women and girls are still not able to fully participate in all aspects of social, economic, and political life. They have less choice and less voice — and are further burdened with the responsibility of rectifying this imbalance. Achieving equality is viewed as “women’s work”. As if we caused this mess in the first place.
Here’s the thing: Gender equality is both a human rights principle and a precondition for a safe, just, sustainable future. A future I’d like to see materialize. Like, now.
We’ve got all the right language, but rhetoric and reality remain far apart. And here we still are — marinating in inequality.
So please, don’t “Happy International Women’s Day” me. Not yet.
Anyway, what exactly are we celebrating? Put down the Prosecco and hear these sobering stats instead:
In our world today, the majority of children who are out of school are girls. Child marriage is far too common, happening far too often — just about everywhere (yes, even in the US). Women’s unemployment is higher than men’s. Women do the majority of unpaid work and when they do work — they earn far less than men, in every occupation. In positions of power and decision-making, inequality is most visible because women are rendered virtually invisible. What bothers me most, is violence against women. One in three women and girls worldwide will experience some form of violence against women in their lifetime. One.In.Three.
And COVID has made all of the above so.much.worse.
I’ve written about some pretty crappy things lately: our disappearing reproductive rights, rape as a weapon of war in the Tigray crisis, Ukrainian women on the frontlines of our new war, Afghan women still on the frontlines of a decades-old war, and much more.
I don’t need to tell you what the world looks like for women, do I?!
OK, hang on. I will.
Go here for the full rant: https://linaabirafeh.medium.com/international-womens-day-i-still-hate-you-1b7dbdef0075