International women’s day is celebrated on the 8th March as a commemoration of the suffrage women gained in Soviet Russia in 1917 which was only embraced by the United Nations in 1975.
Over the years, it has come to provide a much needed platform to honour women’s mammoth impact in society as mothers and pioneers in their respective fields whilst gauging how much more still needs to be done to ensure their voices are heard.
Suffice to say, there’s been a lot of commendable progress which encompasses take a girl child to work and policies on gender equality. Contrariwise, the likes of gender based violence and wage gap are still rife which stem from the prejudices that exist against women.
The wage gap is but one of the major issues that arise from the chauvinistic system that boxes and dictates a women’s worth as per society stereotypes and misconstrued sentiments such as assertiveness for bossiness/ hostility and pleasantness for flirtation.
This bigotry goes on to fabricate an environment that coerces women into silence for fear of misinterpretation thus reducing them to an apathetic audience that accepts the offer on the table. It is worth noting that there are a select few women who master the courage to request and get their rightful dues proving the colossal need to inspire a change across the board and ensure that the gender equality policies speak to lived realities.
In accordance with research piloted by WHO in November 2017, 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced some form of sexual violence. This truth remains an unforgiving reminder that despite a plethora of steps implemented over decades to craft a women friendly world, a mammoth of a task still lays ahead.
We have only scratched the surface as more women continue to suffer in silence due to a failed judicial system and to a certain extent, lack of understanding in terms of what constitutes sexual violence especially in cases of sexual harassment. These issues have been attributed to toxic masculinity as it is deemed the perfect breeding ground for the viciousness women face particularly as far as rape culture and human trafficking goes.
Women also remain in a pickle over health related matters such as sexual preferences, conception and abortions for the unwavering stigma that is attached to them which all too often corners them into illegal and unsafe abortions as well as depression due to infertility.
For career women, conception is still a touchy subject as employers are often not so keen to have them in their employ due to the subsequent maternity leave that ensues after pregnancy. This to a certain degree lands women in murky waters of sometimes having to prioritise between career goals and family and ensuring solutions exist should doom day lambast them.
The fight for women’s rights reiterates and gives meaning to Lao Tzu’s words when he said, ‘a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’ for there’s no denying that a mountain still lays ahead before women are truly free. For now, we can only celebrate and appreciate that women are able to participate in sports, politics, leadership roles etc. despite the challenges that exist.
Happy International Women’s Day!