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Today, March 8th 2012, is International Women’s Day.

by Shelly

It is a day that has been celebrated in many countries throughout the globe since the early 1900s (1977 is when it was first hailed in the West), but there are many out there who ask the questions “Why do we still need a Women’s day?” and “When is International Men’s day then?”

We're hoping this post will clear a few things up.

Western women have come an incredibly long way from the oppression that those before us felt and fought through. Suffrage (getting the vote), being able to have the same level of education as our male counterparts, having a career ( at least in theory!) in whatever field we wish and just simply having a voice to name a few things.

We have come on in leaps and bounds, yet many from younger generations seem to think that all the battles for women have been won, that we are visible and we are equal.

If only that were the case!

Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go in order to get ourselves equal opportunities to that of our male counterparts, to get more of us present in business and politics, to fight through people constantly trying to lay claim to our reproductive health and, globally, needing to work to get women fair education and healthcare, to stop violence against women, to stop rape, to stop female genital mutilation…

Ok, so one day a year isn’t going to achieve everything we need, but it certainly helps. For one day we mark the achievements of strong, influential women - both past and present from all walks of life - and we look to the future and think about what we can do there to make this world a brighter place for all of us.

We need this day to remind us of just how far we have come and just how much we still need to fight to be heard.

The majority reading this will be doing so from a warm home, a comfortable office or on a smart phone, but there are millions of women out there who don’t have those luxuries or home comforts. They are at home – if they have one – some unable to work, others without much food, dying from poor health care, trying to rebuild their lives after war, many suffering from constant mental and physical abuse. These are the women who NEED this day.

As for “When’s International Men’s Day then?”, it’s the 19th of November, and it has been since 1999.

It’s not as celebrated or well known but it still works to promote healthy attitudes toward global gender equality, positive male role models for young boys and awareness of male health issues that don’t get enough coverage.

International Women’s Day is not about ignoring men or man-hating.

Men suffer oppression, abuse, rape and stereotyping too and those are never issues to ignore, but, as a gender, they have always had the upper hand. We are slowly but steadily closing the gap in Western countries, but the developing world is still too far behind.

So, take this day to celebrate all that women have managed to accomplish. Your favourite female authors, freedom fighters, actresses, musicians, local MPs and, closer to home, your mother(s), Grandmothers, sisters, Aunts, cousins, nieces…

Take pride in being female and what it means, whether you were born as one or have become one.

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