In many countries, 8 March is known as "Women's celebration" or "Celebration of tenderness and femininity". It is possible to find even more variations. However, not everyone knows the original meaning of this day. In this article, we discuss points of strengthening gender equality but not falling into the trap of marketing that reinforce stereotypes. Let’s before look at the history of the day and what it was originally about (spoiler: not about praising femininity and tenderness).
In 1909, women in most countries did not have the right to vote and be elected. The problem of the equal wage was also very sharp. This situation prompted a group of women to demonstrate with demands on the streets of New York City.
A couple of years later, Clara Zetkin and Rosa Luxemburg supported the idea of a separate day that would actualize women's rights and emancipation. A few years later, the wave of emancipation reached Russia. The strike of women working in textiles, demanding equal rights in 1917 became a part of a holiday that had a liberating character until the 1970s.
In 1977, the UN recognized March 8 at the international level, and since then campaigns with a thematic character have been actively conducted in many countries. By the way, this year the UN established the theme of the day as "Equality Generation: Realizing Women's Rights".
Why to know its original meaning?
The answer is simple: gender equality is still relevant after more than a century; not all women in the world have voting rights, there are wage inequalities between men and women, and the latter is subject to multiple forms of violence. Number of domestic violence is increasing including Kyrgyzstan, which has resulted in the death of four women in 2020 only. Besides, Kyrgyz women receive salaries equal to 73 percent of men's earnings.
What can I personally do?
There are many simple ways to contribute to gender equality. We have selected seven examples of how you can do it, too.
1. Rethink your attitude to the Day
Read more about the history of 8 March. Learn also about the movement of women who fought for their fundamental rights. Watch movies about the role of women in history, art, technologies etc. Compare this information with how you're celebrating 8 March now.
2. Avoid mansplaining
Stop thinking and deciding what women expect, want or love. Instead, ask them if the bouquet of scarlet roses is exactly what they would like for 8 of March. Furthermore, if one woman likes this gift, why do you think everyone does so?
3. Avoid using sexist patterns
"Beauty day", "Celebration of the beauty" and other related phrases are associated with gender stereotypes. Independence, emancipation, equality - these are the roots of 8 of March. Feel free to use these concepts in your wishes and express them through appropriate gifts.
4. Take responsibility for the gifts
The holiday has become massive in particular due to commercialization as the holiday sales at "women's" stores are doubled by this date. Think before you buy a shopping certificate in a cosmetics store, home kitchen, lingerie or going to the flower shop. How much does your friend/partner/wife need this gift? Why these shops? Have you ever talked to her about her interests, which you may not know? By asking these questions you will strengthen your relationship, get rid of stereotypes and change the sexist tone of the holiday.
5. Avoid objectification of the women’s body
Standards of women's beauty were imposed by advertisements and films. They are often achieved through gruel diets, exercises, pills and surgical procedures. So why don't we stop asking women to be beautiful and charming, indirectly applying these standards?
6. Remember the intersexuality
Women may be different by profession, occupation, appearance, lifestyle, behavior, life practices, including sexual practices, etc. They may also belong to different social groups. Think carefully before you conclude: "all women are the same".
7. Practice solidarity with women
Be open to talk about gender equality and show your commitment. Read more thematic literature, discuss it with friends, and support women on social media and public events. Remember, gender equality is first and foremost about solidarity for the social, political, legal and labor equality of women and men.
UNDP promotes the #EqualFuture2030 campaign with a focus on women’s political participation this year. Make you first step sharing this article and reading more about it in the regional press release.