International Women’s Day 

March 9, 2023   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

This was yesterday, Mar. 8, and I certainly hope that every man in town made a point of giving a lady a flower, regardless of their relationship. In 1908, 15,000 women marched in New York to demand better wage equity and the right to vote, from which, a year later, the Socialist Party of America called for National Women’s Day.

It was in 1910 when German-born Clara Zetkin, a women’s rights advocate, suggested an International Women’s Day at a conference of Working Women in Copenhagen, where, according to notes from the BBC, the 100 women from 17 countries unanimously agreed with her. 

In 1911, International Women’s Day was officially celebrated in Denmark, Austria, Switzerland and Germany, marking this year the 111th International Women’s Day.

The United Nations finally acknowledged and celebrated International Women’s Day (IWD) in 1975. In many countries, IWD is a national holiday; in China, many women are given a half day off work; in Italy, la Festa della Donna see women being given mimosa blossoms, a tradition vaguely associated with the end of World War II. In the US, March is Women’s History Month, with an annual presidential proclamation honouring “the achievements of American women.”

Canada is (seemingly) a world leader in its official stand for women’s rights and equality in all matters pertaining to employment and social equality on every level. Yet, we live in times where the legislation struggles behind reality, the safe houses for women fleeing abuse are full, and the level of trafficking is still solid. 

In some countries, women are tortured and killed for how they wear their clothing, and the universities in Afghanistan welcomed back students but only males. Women are still being denied the right to education, denied their rights at all.

One year, on Mar. 8, we were in Cuba, where we took a shuttle bus our resort provided to go to beautiful Havana. As Patricia and I stepped out of the bus where it stopped in the city, a chap came up to us with flowers in his hands and gave us each one, wishing us warmly happy International Women’s Day.

Colin followed us out of the bus and was told, “No, senor, not for you – these are for the ladies only…” Everything else about Havana was lovely too.

Being a woman is wonderful. So much of our lives are lived on different levels, in different places from men. Whether or not we opt to have babies, create the mystery of new life within us, most of us can; we are designed for it, and that has historically been a problem for men and, in my opinion, the basis of their oppression, their brutality and the ridiculous idea that a woman should be paid less than a man.

In our quest for recognition of our intelligence, our bravery, our human approach to business, living, running the world, the baby bearing has been somewhat of a complication, but it explains our innate wisdom and efficiency. The division of the labour of living, from who does the household chores to all the decision making can become muddled when mixed with professional lives.

But there is a con that we have bought into all along: man = strong; woman = weak, soft, even sentimental. That for a woman to be a leader of men means being a man or stronger than a man. Or worse: to keep a man, a woman has to be silly or groomed to entice or supplicant. To avoid being beaten, she has to be less.

Some of those ideas have been knocked on the head by the MeToo movement, and it was a long time coming. Even so, listen to the language that continues, the insinuations that still exist, still promoted in entertainment, in films and in our culture generally.

Education begins at home, in early childhood, and there is no avoiding that. Commonly, if a father is an abuser, his son stands a chance of becoming that person too. If children are listening to fighting between their parents, laced with abusive words and language, they will use those words early on and lose respect outside the home. If the parents are racist, homophobic, ableist – all that – the children will adopt those values and struggle to lose them later on when such attitudes are seen to be untenable. 

If we as parents are respectful of our children, truly interested in what they have to say and sensible about protecting them from the internet, for example, when they are young, they stand some chance of growing to face the world with good defences. If they know for sure they can bring their troubles home to listening parents, we might be able to keep them safe.

It is wonderful to be a woman. We carry all the answers within us, and none of them include endless war or the destruction of everything around us. If men would come to us with humility, which I mean not as debasement for them but from finally understanding our worth, together we could solve so much…

Readers Comments (0)

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.