Women’s Day’s Background

International Women's Day in Egypt credit photo Wikipedia
International Women's Day in Egypt credit photo Wikipedia

“I feel like young girls are told they have to be a princess and fragile. It’s bullshit. I identify much more with being a warrior – a fighter. If I was going to be a princess, I’d be a warrior princess. Definitely.” Emma Watson

Every single 8th of March since the one of 1921, it is ‘the International Women’s Day’ or ‘the International Day for Women’s Rights’.

This Day especially made in order to honour women around the world refers to the women who first demonstrated the 8th of March of 1917 in Petrograd, when the Russian revolution began. All countries of the former Eastern bloc started to celebrate once Lenin gave the idea.

This international Women’s Day is a ‘bank holiday’ in many countries such as Afghanistan, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Macedonia, Madagascar, Moldova, Mongolia, Nepal, Uzbekistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Vietnam and Zambia.

However, the name of this Day is controversial and its legitimacy is questioned. Every year it is disputed again and over again in the West if yes or no, this Day is worths it.

Votes for women credit photo Wikipedia
Votes for women credit photo Wikipedia

Feminist movements even wonder why to devote a special Day for females, if that means that all the other days of the year are reserved for men and if equality between genders matter, it would be better not to look back to those old symbols from the early 20th century.

Yet, let us remember that in Saudi Arabia, women are still not allowed to drive. If they defy, the ban is prison awaiting them. Otherwise, they won in March 2013 the right to….ride a bike… They should finally gain the right to vote this year. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world to grant voting rights to men but not women.

Another sad note: in Somalia, 98% of women between 15 and 49 years old were circumcised, and more than 125 million worldwide girls and women are. According to UNICEF*, 30 million girls may suffer the same fate in the next ten years.

Even in France, a woman dies every three days killed by her spouse (sexual and other forms of violence). The UN* recalls on its website that more than half of female homicide victims worldwide is killed by her spouse, former spouse or companion.

The role of women is very different from one country to another.

For example, even if Ireland is ranked the 7th in the Human Development Index (HDI), there are still many solutions to improve the position of women.

Woman credit photo Vladimir Pustovit (flickr)
Woman credit photo Vladimir Pustovit (flickr)

First, a thorny issue here in Ireland which is abortion. Namely contraception in Ireland has been banned for sale from 1935 to 1980. However, its use was not prohibited.

This repression of contraceptives is obviously related to the influence of the Catholic Church in the country. Despite a population of 81% up for abortion in cases of rape, government has not dared to legislate in this field so far because of ‘pro-life’ lobbies. Abortion’s prohibition is in the constitution since 1983 and it has followed a referendum.

For example, Irish over 30 year old’s vote had access to the right to vote in 1918 as with the British. However, only educated women could vote at this time and any man under 21 years old had the right to put the ballot in the ballot box. In 1922, with the creation of the Irish Free State, women had exactly the same rights as men and Ireland became the Republic of Ireland. British women had had to wait until 1930 to enjoy the same rights as their male counterparts.

Regarding wages, a woman in Ireland earns on average 2/3 of a male’s wage. Concerning the government, women represent only 1/3 of the positions and 12% of regional authorities’ positions.

On January the 23th, Emma Watson has issued a new discourse on gender equality. The British actress has taken advantage of the Davos forum to use the themes of his previous statement to the United Nations right after being appointed UN ambassador.

Emma Watson credit photo Wikipedia
Emma Watson credit photo Wikipedia

Next to Ban Ki-moon, Emma Watson insisted on taking tangible conscience: “I am convinced that there has never been a greater understanding today about women’s positions.”

Besides that, gender inequalities remains striking. In the Forbes (which is an American business magazine) in 2015 of the largest fortunes unveiled in early March 2015, the 10 richest women need all their wealth thanks to a man. Father, grandfather or husband died, none exception to the rule.

*UNICEF: The United Nations Children’s Fund

*UN: The United Nations

* HDI: the Human Development Index – based on three major criteria which are life expectancy at birth, level of education and standard of living.

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