There are many international days of this and that in the year - if you check out this website, there’s in fact one every day. Of course, some are far less serious than others - International Day of the Hamburger, for instance, cannot come close to the International Day of Mental Health Awareness by importance (on a more serious note, here’s the UN’s list for international days).
Amongst all these, there are also two days dedicated to celebrating women and men. Yes, there are both. Surprised? That’s probably because today, March 8, International Women’s Day, is celebrated so much more widely around the world (even being a bank holiday in many countries) that it often makes the International Men’s Day invisible, leaving people wonder why it doesn’t exist. This is exactly the point that led us to reflect on the importance of holidays and the meanings behind them, often causing debate.
International Women’s Day focuses on the fight for women’s rights in the Western world, and on giving flowers and making women feel special (to the point where it’s becoming paradoxically sexist) in Russia and some post-Soviet countries. All this, of course, raises a number of questions - Should we be making such a big deal of women’s day? If women are to be equal, do they need a special day dedicated to their uniqueness? Does it encourage sexism towards men, or put too much pressure on them to be particularly nice to women on that day and not necessarily on all other days?
In said post-Soviet countries, some people even go as far as questioning the origins of this date - do we really need a holiday that came to us, in a way, as a result of the Bolshevik revolution, instigated by a woman who was first and foremost a socialist, not even identifying as a feminist? Let’s take a closer look and then you can participate in our discussion on the subject to express your thoughts.
Points we thought were important to consider when talking about International Women’s Day:
It has socialist origins: Women’s day originated in the period of late February-early March in 1908, beginning with women marching in New York to demand better working conditions. In 1910, Clara Zetkin suggested to make the day international during the Socialist congress. In 1917-1918, Russian women were protesting against World War I and ensuing poor working conditions - which helped the Czar’s abdication and the acquisition of the right to vote for women. So, some could say the origins of the day are “too left-wing”, or whatnot. In post-Soviet countries, you can occasionally see blog posts and social media posts protesting against this “Communist heritage” holiday every year.
What do you think about International Women’s Day? Do you think we missed something important on this topic? Share your feedback in the comments below and participate in our discussion if you’d like to have a constructive debate about it with different people.