English Politics

What does it mean to celebrate International Women’s Day?

Muhammad Ali Bukhari, CNMNG News, Toronto

According to the UN, to celebrate March 8 as the International Women’s Day has assumed a new global dimension for women in developed and developing countries alike, which has been strengthened by four global United Nations women’s conferences, has helped make the commemoration a rallying point to build support for women’s rights and participation in the political and economic arenas.

However, it was officially recognized by the United Nations in 1977, as first emerged from those activities of labour movements at the turn of the twentieth century in North America and across Europe, such as Socialist Party of America’s Women’s Day in New York City on February 28, 1909, after German delegates Clara Zetkin, Käte Duncker, Paula Thiede and others proposed at the 1910 International Socialist Women’s Conference that “a special Women’s Day” be organized annually. Subsequently, women gained suffrage in Soviet Russia in 1917, March 8 became a national holiday there, which predominantly then celebrated by the socialist movement and communist countries until it was adopted by the feminist movement in about 1967.

Since then it became official worldwide, and it has a theme of its own, like “Choose to Challenge” in 2021. It means, collectively they’re all responsible for their own thoughts and actions – all day, every day. Therefore, they made an appeal: “We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world. From challenge comes change, so let’s all choose to challenge.”

Did you know, New Zealand was the first self-governing nation to allow women to vote and the first known campaign of its kind in 1893 as well as the Egyptian Society of Physicians went against tradition by declaring the negative effects of female genitalia mutilation in 1920?

These are a symbolic reflection on which women made progress towards their goal of establishing the very rights of their own. But, still, there is much to achieve!

For example,  the 2021 UN theme for International Women’s Day is “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”, highlighting the impact that girls and women worldwide had as health care workers, caregivers, innovators and community organizers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Its associated Hashtag will be #IWD2021 and #InternationalWomensDay. Concurrently, the unions representing 175,000 healthcare workers across Ontario have announced the launch of International Women’s Day actions with a clear message to Premier Ford: “Respect us. Protect us. Pay us,” which will appear in the social media with the hashtag: #RespectProtectPay

Similarly, on this occasion in an interview with BBC Bangla Radio, Dhaka University’s Associate Professor of Anthropology Zobaida Nasreen has defined why are feminists seen so negatively in Bangladesh? She said, “Feminism is actually seen separately from all kinds of issues including men and women as well as a kind of level is created by calling feminism misogynistic, which explains why feminists see men as anti-masculine, not anti-masculine.”

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