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What does International Women's Day really mean?

Posted in: Women's Health 08 Mar, 2012

Today, Thursday March 8th, has been International Women’s Day.

  • How did you mark the occasion?
  • Did you send a tweet in acknowledgement?
  • Did you make a snarky but erroneous joke about there being no International Men’s Day?
  • Did you roll your eyes dismissively?
  • Maybe you smiled at the Google logo and then continued on with your search.
  • Maybe you read a few blog posts or opinion pieces about the Day and shared them with your friends.

If you found yourself nodding in recognition to any of the above, then, all things considered, you’re doing pretty well. For one thing, you have unfettered access to the Internet, from which you can do things like tweet or update your Facebook status or find out after a quick Google search that there is, in fact, an International Men’s Day as well (November 19th - it’s true). You also have the time to enjoy that unfettered access to the Internet, even if it’s just during your lunch break. Freedom - isn’t it great?

Now, obviously, International Women’s Day is about far more than access to the Internet. It’s also about more than a simple celebration of women in general, be they feminist heroes or an admired relative. International Women’s Day is an oft-misunderstood day here in the UK, where it’s often treated with a bemused thumbs-up, usually confused as a day for feminists. Yay Feminism! Why aren’t we all equal yet?

But no. International Women’s Day is not just a day for feminists, and it’s not just an all-womankind equivalent to Mother’s Day. It’s not even simply a day set apart solely to praise and be thankful for the successes of feminists in the past. International Women’s Day has been running on the same day every year for over a century and it actually has deeply political roots, having begun as a political event organised by the Socialist Party of America. The original event was part of a wider strategy to further the struggle for equal rights, like suffrage. In the many years since then, the event has grown across the world, with some countries such as Afghanistan, Uganda, Russia and Mongolia recognising a public holiday in celebration.

In the present, each International Women’s day is organised around a theme. This year’s theme, determined by the UN, was Empower Rural Women - End Hunger and Poverty. Various events and campaigns have been taking place in order to raise awareness of this issue across the world. Though it is disappointing that the underlying humanitarian importance of International Women’s Day has not received much attention in the UK, it is still gratifying that the event is acknowledged in a country where gender equality is often taken for granted, despite the fact that gender equality issues such as the pay gap persist.

Writing from the perspective as a female health blogger, I am taking today to appreciate how far women have come since the first International Women’s Day. Here at euroClinix, we sell a range of women’s health products that would simply have been unthinkable in 1911. A pill to give women control over their sex lives? Patches to help increase sex drive? Treatment to hold off an inconvenient period? It’s easy to take these things for granted nowadays, especially when the Internet allows unprecedented access to information and opportunities for buying, but the great thing about International Women’s Day is it gives us a time to sit back and really think about where we are and where we’ve come from.

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