SO IT'S INTERNATIONAL Women's Day. The world’s 103rd, if slightly differing records are to be believed. On this day, your neighbourhood beauty parlor will throw in a paraffin manicure free with your hairstyle, and you’ll be bombarded with advertising that has suddenly woken up to the “celebration of women”. (You’ll be spared swathes of pink, hopefully, since Valentine’s Day breezed by a mere 3 weeks ago.) Google has already put up a rockstar doodle, showcasing our many faces as women around the world. We even get our very own Wikipedia entry, educating us on the significance of the day! (Insert whooping sound.)
24 hours for 3 billion people.
Let this smack you across the face and settle into your system.
That’s how far we’ve gotten, ladies.
1 day of 365 for:-representing 49.6 % of the world’s population -working two-thirds of the world's working hours, -producing half of the world's food and, in return, -making 77 cents to a man’s dollar in even a “developed” country like America -earning only 10% of the world's income, and -owning less than one percent of the world's property*
And all this only if a woman first makes it through the vaginal canal, past infancy, and into adulthood. Bonus points for a safe environment, the availability of adequate food and hygienic toilets, and the dazzling privilege that is an education.
We are to be appropriately grateful. We are to be suitably sensible. Socially submissive, kinship-compliant, undersexual, hyperwilling to please. Defined by our relationships. Hemmed in by ceilings. Controlled by our idols. Our virtue strategically planted in our vaginas. Our bodies deployed as political minefields. We emulate men if we are to succeed. We manipulate through passive-aggression because it hasn’t occurred to so many of us to openly yank power off that plate. Of course we’re not uniformly subjugated. We have been required to wrest patriarchal bonds like Superwomen smashing a chain-link fence. But in every rise of a neighborhood auntie’s eyebrow, in every seemingly innocuous question about marital choices and last names and keeping home, patriarchy lurks, now camouflaged and morphed, but deceptively robust and alive.
Many wonderful organizations pushing for gender change and empowerment will use this day to highlight how much more needs to be done. Because suddenly, for this one measly day, everybody is actually listening. And even as you consider availing of that pressure cooker discount or the latest commercial scheme to exalt our gender, promise your little corner of the planet this:
Claim that calendar. Sprawl across its weeks. Amplify our triumphs to its months, so as the years roll by, we won’t be mere statistics, savvy marketing sitting ducks, and victims in our own narratives.
For those who still question the need for feminism, or believe we’re in a post-feminist world, take a long, hard look at the other 364 spaces on the calendar that are filled with injustices against the sisterhood, a studied silence among the most treacherous. Watch who lives in those slots of gender and class privilege. Delve into their stories so you can hear what is not being said.
Claim chunks of time from all parts of the calendar. Pencil in your plans and ambitions on both sides of March 8th. Fuel your power. Drive them to fruition.
You are more than a day.
You are more than your fate.
You are HALF THE WORLD.
* Data source: Introduction to challenges in achieving gender equality