Why do we need International Women’s Day?
It’s a special day in celebration of the woman, you’ll say.
So why don’t we have a special day to celebrate men then? Is it that men do not want to be celebrated? Is it that they are celebrated enough?
Or is it that women aren’t celebrated enough?
International Women’s Day is required because female infanticide is rampant, and because the girl child is still not treated the way a boy would be.
Because there are girls who are not allowed to study and women who are not allowed to work.
Because there are dowry and honour killing cases every day.
Because girls and women alike are molested, raped and even sold for their bodies.
Because there are working women being paid lesser than their male counterparts.
Because there still are people out there who think a woman’s outfit is responsible for crimes against her.
People who think a woman mustn’t work after she gets married.
Who believe that ours is the weaker sex.
Who assume that we don’t need equal opportunities.
Today, on International Women’s Day, a friend of mine told me that the office boy at her workplace kept her lunch plate on a different table from the others. When she asked why, he said, “Udhar sirf aadmi log baithte hain.” (“Only men sit at that table.”)
If something like this can happen at a large company, where almost everyone has more than a bachelor’s degree, you can only imagine what happens in places where people don’t have any awareness.
And then there’s the whole commercialization of International Women’s Day. As rightly mentioned in this MidDay editorial, the number of offers “for women on their special day” is almost maddening. Honestly, I’m not sure how I can help against ostracism of women by getting 20% discount for a spa treatment.
Media, including social media does nothing to help. After years of being ignored, the Indian women’s cricket team is suddenly on the front page today. Posts like “18 Strong Women in the World” are suddenly all over the internet, when just a few days ago, there was a post that asked the girl to “do the protocol Indian girl moves – praying, cooking, doing household work, before telling her parents about her boyfriend”. Really?
Films portray women in item numbers, wearing slinky clothes. There rarely are releases showing stories of powerful women like Kahaani or Neerja, but almost every year, there is a derogatory to women Grand Masti-esque movie, or a male-glorifying Dabangg-esque movie.
TV shows aren’t very far behind, with men dressing up as women on comedy shows, because apparently it’s funny. I won’t even begin to talk about Indian dramas on television, and the way women are portrayed on those.
Awareness, however, is being spread on various kinds of media. Whether it be this advertisement by Titan, this music video by Lady Gaga on sexual crimes in colleges, or the Share The Load campaign by Ariel, or even Saving Face, an Oscar winning documentary that showed the plight of acid attack victims, there are people actively working towards this issue.
Emma Watson talks about a society where men and women, both, come together to strive towards a society where gender bias has completely disappeared. Her HeForShe campaign aims at equal opportunities for both, men and women. And it would be amazing to see the world on the same page as her on this topic.
But this is just part of the process. We have a long way to go, and a change such as the one we’re expecting, does not happen over night.
We need to take it slow and steady, taking baby steps towards a life where women aren’t thrown into the shadows just because some people expect them to be there.
To a world where the whole of humanity can live as equals.
And then some day, we’ll realise that there’s no need for an International Women’s Day at all.