What is Women’s Day? Every day is Women’s day!
Did you give your Bai a chutti today?
How many of you women took your Bai out?
Many women on social networking sites are enraged with International Women’s day.
So are men!
Many others are cracking jokes about women’s day!
Now deconstruct the social and political profile of these wo/men!
Caste, Class, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Marital status, Educational status, Professional status and lastly their position on War and Peace.
Privilege profile can be further deconstructed but we will stop, observe and breathe a little more here.
What kind of wo/men gain from patriarchy and systemic class and caste oppression?
What kind of wo/men are ONLY aware of issues/discourses that make them feel innocent about their privileges?
My feminist friend Banamallika Choudhury writes – “If you do not say every day is my birthday, if you do not say everyday is durgapuja, if you do not say every day is independence day, if you do not say every day is disability day, if you do not say every day is a day free of violence, restriction and discrimination in the world, do not say every day is women’s day. This day has a history, this day has a cause.”
International Women’s day was originally celebrated as the International Working Women’s day. The History of Women’s day is inspiring and uplifting for working class women and many women who have stepped out of home and asked to be paid for their work!
The chronological History of the International Women’s day goes like this (Reference United Nations Site) –
1909 The first National Woman’s Day was observed in the United States on 28 February. The Socialist Party of America designated this day in honour of the 1908 garment workers’ strike in New York, where women protested against working conditions.
1910 The Socialist International, meeting in Copenhagen, established a Women’s Day, international in character, to honour the movement for women’s rights and to build support for achieving universal suffrage for women. The proposal was greeted with unanimous approval by the conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, which included the first three women elected to the Finnish Parliament. No fixed date was selected for the observance.
1911 As a result of the Copenhagen initiative, International Women’s Day was marked for the first time (19 March) in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, where more than one million women and men attended rallies. In addition to the right to vote and to hold public office, they demanded women’s rights to work, to vocational training and to an end to discrimination on the job.
1913-1914 International Women’s Day also became a mechanism for protesting World War I. As part of the peace movement, Russian women observed their first International Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February. Elsewhere in Europe, on or around 8 March of the following year, women held rallies either to protest the war or to express solidarity with other activists.
(The 8th session of UN assembly elected Vijaya Laxmi Pandit as its President )
1917 Against the backdrop of the war, women in Russia again chose to protest and strike for “Bread and Peace” on the last Sunday in February (which fell on 8 March on the Gregorian calendar). Four days later, the Czar abdicated and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote.
1975 During International Women’s Year, the United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day on 8 March.
1995 The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a historic roadmap signed by 189 governments, focused on 12 critical areas of concern, and envisioned a world where each woman and girl can exercise her choices, such as participating in politics, getting an education, having an income, and living in societies free from violence and discrimination.
2014 The 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW58) – the annual gathering of States to address critical issues related to gender equality and women’s rights — focused on “Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls”. UN entities and accredited NGOs from around the world took stock of progress and remaining challenges towards meeting the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs have played an important role in galvanizing attention on and resources for gender equality and women’s empowerment.
So wo/men who don’t care about International Women’s Day please know there were some people like you and me…some people as ordinary as us…who fought for –
women’s right to vote and to hold public office, they demanded women’s rights to work, to vocational training and to an end to discrimination on the job…
…They fought while others stayed home and worked! And didn’t get paid for their work! And that happened in the name of Tradition and Family! Isn’t that patriarchy?
Good if you have a family today and can also work! May be your partner helps you at home. May be s/he is a home maker. May be both of you divide work equally.
It wasn’t so easy always!
Not in your privileged class! It was mostly the working class women, women in trade unions, women in civil rights who struggled for us. They dared to be truly brave!
They were enraged by the discrimination.
So don’t patronize your Bai or whoever you think you are patronizing. You and your partner are working today in that fancy office because the likes of her marched and protested on streets and went to jail …
(8th March 2017, International Women’s Day March by Trade Union workers, Dalit women and AIDWA on the streets of Lucknow)
The struggle is on!
This day we celebrate our right to work and get paid just as much as men for the same job! This day we celebrate our right to choose or dismiss a government. This day we choose education over ignorance. This day we assert again that our body is our body. And this is the day we choose peace over war!
International Women’s Day makes me happy. On the 8th of March, we remind ourselves that we will march for women, our sisters, our partners and for our comrades! We are women of the world and we will fight for every woman’s safety, health, education, job, political participation….and this would be a camaraderie beyond caste, religion, class, race and nation state!