International Women’s Day

Hira Rahman - 1B Nanotechnology
Posted on: March 11, 2017

On March 8, people around the world celebrated International Women’s day to bring light to the issues concerning women, commemorate the struggle for women’s rights and to celebrate the political, social, economic, and cultural achievements of women throughout history. The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, “Be Bold for Change”, was indented to push people towards concrete action to help drive gender equality.

Here in Canada, Justin Trudeau emphasized his government’s commitment to gender equality and announced Canada’s plan to provide $650 million of funding for women’s sexual and reproductive health rights around the world. The money will be used for sexuality education, reproductive health services, family planning and contraceptives, and will also go to programs to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence.

This year, International Women’s Day organizers came together for the “Day Without a Woman” strike which was organized by the same grassroots activists behind the Women’s March that took place the day after President Trump’s inauguration.

Women were encouraged to show solidarity with the movement by taking the day off, avoiding shopping for one day (with exceptions for small, women- and minority-owned businesses) and by wearing red in solidarity with A Day Without a Woman.

“The idea is to mobilize women, including trans women, and all who support them in an international day of struggle – a day of striking, marching, blocking roads, bridges, and squares, abstaining from domestic, care and sex work, boycotting, calling out misogynistic politicians and companies, striking in educational institutions,” organizers and activists wrote in an op-ed calling for the women’s strike. “These actions are aimed at making visible the needs and aspirations of those whom lean-in feminism ignored: women in the formal labor market, women working in the sphere of social reproduction and care, and unemployed and precarious working women.”

Women play an essential role in the daily functions of life in society and so the goal of the strike, in brief, was to show what society looks like when women don’t actively participate in it and to raise awareness around issues of civil liberties, reproductive rights, and economic inequality.

Around the world, Women’s groups organized protests, rallies and strikes to bring awareness to the biggest issues impacting women, like income inequality, reproductive rights and violence against women.

In India, a march for the One Billion Rising campaign took place in the capital, New Delhi. The campaign was prompted by the gang rape and murder of Jyoti Singh, a medical student. The movement, which is supported by 30 women’s groups, marched to challenge the culture of violence against women by helping victims find justice.

In Ireland, women’s groups used International Women’s Day to protest the country’s restrictive abortion laws. The groups organized a strike and rally under the hashtag #Strike4Repeal, advocating for the repeal of the eighth amendment of the Constitution of Ireland, which prohibits abortion even in cases of rape, incest, or sickness of the mother, allowing it to be considered only when a woman’s life is in immediate danger.

Activists in Beirut organized a march to protest the lack of female representatives in the Lebanese parliament, domestic abuse and the country’s penal code that fails to adequately punish rape.

International Women’s Day is about making the world a more inclusive place for everyone. Although a lot of progress has been made to improve the lives of women around the world, there are many issues concerning women that have yet to be resolved. To accomplish this, there needs to be awareness of problems exclusive to women in the world and that is why International Women’s Day is relevant.