This Sunday March 8th is International Women’s Day. This isn’t a day dedicated to celebrating international women, but an attempt by the United Nations to remind us all what women are, what we have done, all our kerayzee little foibles and quirkz, how far we’ve come, and how far we’ve got left to go.
I’m not against an event that aims to raise consciousness of women’s unequal treatment. Judging on past experience, lots of the events that get held are a great excuse to see some really talented women doing fun, creative things and have a big piss-up, even if we have to sit through the occasional overlong dramatic silent rendition of pieces called things like ‘A Womb With A View’ and ‘What My Breasts Really Want To Say’. If anyone needs reminding as to why we are still bothering with such a seemingly outdated idea as a Women’s Day then a few statistics from the official website ought to put things in perspective:
* 530,000 women die in pregnancy or childbirth each year
* Of 1.2 billion people living in poverty worldwide, 70% are women
* 80% of the world’s 27 million refugees are women
* Women own around only 1% of the world’s land
* Women do two-thirds of the world’s work but receive only 10% of the world’s income
* Women are 2/3 of the 1 billion+ illiterate adults who have no access to basic education
* One year out of college women earn 20% less than men and 10 years later 31% less
These are all staggering facts that ought to shame any 21st-century human being, and any event which aims to draw attention to them gets a green light from me. Or at least an amber one. Because the one fact that people always seem to forget when discussing women’s issues and women’s rights is that women, despite their segregated treatment (anyone ever heard of a Man’s day? Man’s hour on the radio? Men’s sections in the newspapers?) are not a minority. They account for half of all human life on this planet (perhaps more if countries like China and India didn’t sanction such vile practices as female infanticide), and yet somehow they have ended up in a quaint little box to be dug out once a year, sectioned off in almost every strand of society, assigned restrictive and often demeaning roles, based largely on the use they can be to men. The fact that blows my tiny, overemotional, shoe-obsessed mind is that women have borne the stigma and oppression normally felt by a minority class when we are in fact (marginally) the majority. (and anyone who still thinks the sexes have achieved equality/we are living in a post-feminist world/yadayada should take the following quiz, courtesy of I Blame The Patriarchy). Not that I’m for a second condoning minority oppression – but it shows how disenfranchised women are as a class that not even a little thing like being equally numerous can vouchsafe equal importance.
So, I will be celebrating International Women’s Day this Sunday in an appropriately alcoholic manner. And this will involve celebrating the steps taken by women over the last century to securing our status as quasi-human beings. But until we can say we live in a world where no female born is murdered for being female, nor has her genitals mutilated for being female, nor is raised to believe she is in any way less entitled to an active, successful life than a man, nor is taught to value herself according to her ability to appease men, nor has her bodily sovereignty called into question or controlled, nor is afraid to walk the streets at night, nor is automatically objectified and institutionally commodified for anyone else’s benefit, let no celebration of women in the world go without a healthy human dose of rage.