“Today is Women’s Day, Mama, when is Men’s Day?” my 8-year-old asked me yesterday on International Women's Day.
“There is no Men’s Day,” I told him without giving it much thought.
And yes, he did go on to ask me why. It was time to think, now, wasn’t it?
“Well,” I told him, “you see, because women are very important and people everywhere need to respect them and need to be reminded that they should be celebrated.”
“Aren’t women respected? We respect you and love you. You are our mama and the most important person in our lives just as Papa is,” was the prompt reply.
It was time to get serious now. The standard replies weren’t going to be enough for a curious and inquiring mind.
“Yes, but women don’t get importance everywhere and not everyone thinks like you, baby,” I said.
“What do you mean, Mama?”
Fortunately for me, our recent visit to the National Defence Academy, my husband’s (a fighter pilot, in the Air Force, now retired) alma mater, sprang immediately to mind.
“Do you remember, there are no girls in NDA? You had even asked me why there were no girl cadets there. A lot of girls want to join institutions like the NDA but aren’t allowed to. Do you think they should be able to join the defence forces or study or work wherever they want to?”
“Of course, Mama! But why aren’t they allowed to? Who tells them they can’t?”
“Over the years, the society which includes many people, the government, schools and colleges, employers and many such people decided that women should not and would not be able to work as well as men do, so they were not allowed to study, vote, get jobs, be in sports, join the defence services etc. etc.”
“Oh, but you work Mama and you went to school and there are so many girls in my class, but yes, there are no girls in NDA.”
“Like many other women, now, I was able to study, vote and work because of the struggle of a few brave women who also wanted to live a life like mine and the girls in your school. Because they weren’t allowed to, they decided to protest and raise their voices. And, that is why Women’s Day… (it was now time to google) … was first organised by the German socialist and theorist Clara Zetkin along with 100 delegates from 17 countries in March 1911. When it first began, women were demanding that they be given the right to vote - which they received in Britain in 1918 but just last year in Saudi Arabia - to hold public office and to be given equal employment rights as men.”
“Ok then, I got it Mama, I feel sad for you. I don’t know why they did such things then but you can always work and go for running and do whatever you want to do. I will tell Papa too.”
Tearing up, all I could do was give him a big giant hug.
Why the hullaballoo I had been thinking yesterday morning! Aren’t we secure enough in the knowledge of our inner strength that we need to shout it from the top of mountains or in this case buildings? So, we celebrate women only on one day out of all 365 days of the year. Is it Men’s Day the rest of the year? Why the need for a set day to bring to people’s notice that women all over the world need to be cherished and loved. Why the need at all to highlight the fact that women need to be respected and valued. Why is it that we found and still find it difficult to give women equal opportunities, equal pay and most importantly equal respect?
Has the society failed over the centuries to ensure that everyone is to be treated equally without any parity? Yes, unfortunately that’s the truth. That sounds terrible and horribly sad. But, unfortunately, it is true for many many women all over the world, I thought after my conversation with my son later in the day.
International Women's Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. International Women's Day (IWD) has been observed since the early 1900's - a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies. Socialists first put forward the idea of advancing women's suffrage through a day to mark women's enormous contribution to humankind.
Did you know, women are predicted to face another 118-year wait for the gender pay gap to close, with only 55 of the 500 richest people in the world being women?
International Women's Day is a collective day of global celebration and a call for gender parity and after mulling over it and talking to a friend I realised we do need to remind people and society to celebrate the spirit of womanhood.
Is there a better way to call out the misogynists, the chauvinists, the conservatives, the hypocrites than celebrating one day of the year as women’s day?
Maybe, maybe not. But it is one way of doing it. Gender equality… Women empowerment are the call of the day and there is no two ways about it. That is if we want our children to create a better society and world.
We just need to wake up! Everything else will fall in place. Men and women have to rise above and share the responsibility, be stronger – strong enough to change mindsets, lead by example, educate their families, stop asking for concessions and freebies and special treatment and prove to everyone that they deserve all this attention.
And till that happens, let’s celebrate, commemorate, and honour and cherish!