March 8th. A big day in the world, yet what is it, exactly that we are celebrating?
It may seem like a simple question with a simple answer. It’s International Women’s Day. We celebrate women all over the world.
But in which way? What is it that we celebrate about women?
What I have noticed is that this particular day has different meanings in different countries.
For instance, for me, who I grew up in a communist country, women’s day meant Mother’s day. Women would get presents and would be treated better by their families and spouses. Femininity and motherhood were celebrated, the weakness of being sensitive and needing attention expressed in flowers and gifts.
After I moved to Norway, I saw that women’s day meant something else in this society.
When it comes to gender equality, Norway stands in the first places, together with Iceland and Finland and Sweden. Here I saw that celebrating women did not meant celebrating their ability to be mothers, or to be sensitive, or weak.
Here women are celebrated for being strong and independent. It is the political fight to gain rights that is celebrated. Rights like vote, contraception, abortion, deciding what to do with their own bodies, the right to maternity leave, and child care.
The right to education, to work, to choose who and if they want to marry and how do they want to live their lives.
The celebration of women’s day in Norway focuses on what still needs to be done when it comes to women’s rights. Like equal pay, fight against sexual harassment, abuse, rape, domestic violence.
The whole week that includes March 8th day, is full of events where experts and political activists are bringing forward all these issues and put a spotlight on what is still not right for women.
I meet quite a few women from different countries who sometimes protest about the fact that they do not get flowers in this particular day. That their male colleagues at their jobs do not say more than perhaps «Happy women’s day», from the distance. They feel they are lacking something on March 8th because the celebration is not the same.
Many women today have grown up in a world where they always had the right to vote, the right to work and to go to school, the contraception, and the right to marry who they want. Because of that we should be even more aware of the sacrifices and do not take these things for granted. Some women fought and died so women of today have all these rights. Perhaps it would be a good idea to remember those sacrifices.
Is this anything you ever thought about? How do you celebrate women’s day? What tradition did you have in your own country? I would love to hear your story about it.
What March 8th mean to you? Weakness and sensitivity, the ability to be a mother, or the rights and duties they all have in the society?
Happy International Women’s Day!