International Women’s Day 2012
International Women’s Day has been celebrated for the past 100 years, and this year on March 8 marks the 101st anniversary of a day dedicated to furthering the cause of equality for all women worldwide. The site for International Women’s Day says this:
With so much change to the rights of women worldwide over the past 100 years, some may say that equality has been reached, and to some extent, at least in the west, some semblance of equality is now present in daily life. Some may ask then “Why is it still important?”
There are several reasons to support this movement, including freedom of choice in areas concerning female reproductive systems, education for girls and women, equality of pay, safety for women from violence at the hands of men just to name a few.
While the world seems to have moved forward in the field of women’s rights, there are still many areas of concern to the rights of women, and in some cases these hard-fought rights are actually under threat of being taken away. The USA, facing an impending election, is under increasing pressure from conservative Christian politicians to stifle reproductive rights and the safety of women, including rights to abortion even in cases of rape or incest, rights to contraception, and rights and access to safe healthcare and childcare. In fact, if the conservatives in the USA would have their way, they would have every say over how a woman can use and treat her own body. Some may see this as posturing by the conservatives, but the fact remains, if these men get into power, they will use it with the support of their backers. These are fundamental issues of personal safety and quality of life, and should never be put in the hands of a religious person of any kind, especially a religious politician.
Meanwhile, the average pay rate worldwide for women is somewhere around 17% lower for that of the same job in men. I know that the excuses for this are often cited as being due to the fact that women are far more likely to take maternity leave during a job, therefore are less reliable, but this is a farce. Women are returning to work after childbirth earlier than ever, and are now expected to do so.
On top of this, in the Islamic world, women are still being treated as possessions by men, being blamed for male incursions upon them, being subjected to the wearing of hijabs and genital mutilation at the hands of men, and being killed in the name of honour, even when raped. I have written about this stuff before, and misogyny doesn’t end at the hands of Islam either.
Something often hear is “But these are cultural practices, they are beyond criticism.” Well I’m telling you now, it’s time we stood up against ANY practice that is wrong, be it cultural or not. The world can no longer afford to have these practices defended.
Most importantly in my mind, and perhaps as a catalyst for permanent change towards equality, is education for girls and women as a key agenda point. Many of the advantages of education for girls and women in third world countries can be read here. Trends show that once a man in a third world village or state is educated, he tends to move away from his village and use his education in the pursuit of a living elsewhere, whereas a woman will return to their village and help educate her own people. This can only be positive. Education for women and girls will help them escape the poverty cycle and make their own communities a better place for all involved. Education for women means lower birthrates, by choice, and thus will help curb population growth in areas that can no longer sustain the growing numbers. If this is the trend on a local level, imagine the changes that could happen on a world scale.
Things are far from equal, even here in Australia. It will take more than just policy change, it will take motions from average people, men and women, to make amends to our world. I hope you are here with me on this one, I see it as imperative.
This year’s theme is:
“Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures” is the 2012 theme of the internationalwomensday.com website and this has been widely used by hundreds of organisations including schools, universities, governments, women’s groups and the private sector.
What can you do to participate?
- Check out the resources on the International Women’s Day website.
- Follow International Women’s Day on Twitter.
- See what’s happening in your area.
- Check some of the resources available.