Pink balloons ad a cheer leading dance? Badges to celebrate women only once out of 365 days? Every year on 8th March the world wakes up to International Women’s Day that promises a day celebrating womanhood. It marks the day when social media is filled with women’s day stories of achievements and rewards, women’s day sales and offers. It is ‘the day’ that is meant to appreciate the life, struggles and success of women all over the world. It is the day that ends with free dinner, drinks and special treatments for “our women”. But, why just a day? Should not women be respected and appreciated every day? Why should women and their achievements be ‘pedestalled’ and celebrated once in a year and otherwise forgotten? Why can’t every day be women’s day?
Woman’s Day Wakes Up To The Same Gender Inequality
International women’s day is celebrated all over the world to recognize the struggles and achievements of a woman. It is true that women have to undergo multiple struggles and societal pressures before reaching their destination. Appreciating it is must, but not once in a year or by pressing them under a huge pile of gifts and offers. Women’s day has its meaning when it reinforces gender equality and the rights of women in every sector. It loses its sense when it is used as a marketing strategy, as a day of celebration or a day of equality, freedom and rights for women. When every day is a struggle for women, whether it is juggling between work and home, or negotiating between marriage and career or demanding for equal pay at firms, celebrating women’s day is just a show of hypocrisy. What is the meaning of woman’s day in India which has the worst gender gap, is the second-lowest in recruiting women in the workforce, where dowry is still a custom and where marriage and a good husband is the mark of a woman’s success? When woman’s day wakes up to the same gender issues, a number of rapes done, filed and silenced and women still afraid to go out alone in the night, it seems nothing more than mere tokenism.
Why Can’t Women’s Day Be About Shattering Patriarchy?
Patriarchy has always seen women as someone who can be taken over through material happiness. Stereotyping women as gold-diggers, as someone who is happy with expensive gifts and a bag of chocolates, is a common idea that is passed unquestioned. Using this stereotype, patriarchy has subjected women as submissive and their issues as unimportant as a crying child who will be happy with a piece of cake. Women’s day is also a part of the same circle. While each day women have to go through millions of challenges and restrictions imposed by patriarchy, on women’s day they can relax and be appreciated for surviving the challenges. And, the appreciation is not about giving her the freedom or rights she deserves, but the free wine and dress that she apparently needs to be happy. Why cant women’s day be about shattering patriarchy and its walls forever that makes women’s lives challenging? In this way, women’s day just seems to be another day of normalizing patriarchal notions of pedestalling women as great or goddess who survive the inevitable difficulties in the life of a woman. Why can’t women’s day be about recognizing that women’s lives can be easy if society gives up its patriarchy and becomes inclusive for all identities?
There Are Women Who Are Unaffected By Women’s Day
Another major reason why women’s day is mere tokenism is the fact that there is still a large group of women who are still left out of women empowerment. While many women today are empowered and have a voice of their own, there are women who unaware or unaffected by woman’s day. They continue to work under low wages, bear violence and insults and sulk in silence for being born into this life. In India, the second largest number of suicides are committed by housewives. Nearly 20 cases of dowry deaths and 200 cases of cruelty against women are reported every year. Besides, the crime against women has been increasing with no legal or social support for women who are victims of rape, sexual harassment or domestic violence. Beating and criticizing women for not fulfilling their duties as a mother or a wife is still ‘normal’ for many families.
Moreover, the regressive myths around menstruation still dictate the menstruating women as impure. In the recent case of Bhuj college students were asked to show their underpants and confirm they are not bleeding so that they don’t enter into worshipping areas or dining halls while menstruating. This happened a month before women’s day. How, then, can women’s day make a sense? If age-old myths around menstruation are being followed in educational institutions, women’s day and its appreciation of womanhood is a feeble noise that will fade away as soon as the dawn of the next day breaks.
Why Can’t Everyday Be Woman’s Day?
It is, however, true that days, colleges, discussions and firms that stage only women are an effort to recognize women and their struggles that have been repressed for a long time. In that case, we need more than one college where women can study freely, more than one discussions where women’s issues and success are brought to the forefront and more than one day when women’s lives should be valued and their existence should be respected.