A platform for young feminists from Europe

March is for : International women’s day

Hello reader ! March is a very special month, and you probably already know why. On the 8th of March, just like every year, we celebrated International Women’s Day. On this special day, great initiatives around the theme of women’s rights popped up around the world.

Why is the 8th of March an important day ?

International Women’s Day was celebrated for the first time by the Socialist Party in the United States, at the beginning of the 20th century. However it is Clara Zetkin, the leader of the German Socialist’s Party Women’s Office, who proposed in 1910 to declare the 8th of March International Women’s Day. The day would be used as a forum to give visibility to the demands of women at the time : equal rights with men, whether political (in most countries women were not allowed to vote) or social and economical.

As time passed, the day was celebrated in more and more countries around the world. In 1975, it was celebrated in the United Nations for the first time. It became an opportunity to both celebrate accomplishments by women and push for gender equality worldwide.

IWD is about women’s acomplishments, not flowers and discounts

« Women's Day » : A cosmetic brand in Belgium offers a 50% discount to women.

« Women’s Day » : A cosmetic brand in Belgium offers a 50% discount to women. Photo courtesy of the author

How come such an important day, which is meant to give visibility to women’s accomplishments, has become so commercial ? How has it become a day where women can get discounts on flowers, lingerie and chocolate ?

Every year, I am always surprised by the persistence of gender stereotypes that permeate IWD. Many are not talking about women’s day, but about woman’s day : as if there was one unique Woman figure to be celebrated. The one that likes flowers and lingerie.

The fact that brands use all sorts of gender stereotypes to make money is nothing new, nor (unfortunately) surprising: we see it on Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day… The issue here is that the original purpose of IWD, i.e. to give visibility to women’s accomplishments and celebrate them, gets lost in the figure of the Woman. And in a world where these accomplishments remain invisibilised, we do need International Women’s Day.

Woman’s Day should be a day to celebrate women’s diversity and victories. A day to remind us that great women before us fought for their rights. To remind us that we can do the same.

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