In defence of International Women’s Day

A Venus symbol.

I was disappointed to see some comments in a Facebook group for dads today complaining about International Women’s Day. The poster asked if anyone else in the group was sick of being bombarded with it; his gripe being that International Men’s Day was ignored by the press and on social media. I, for one, am not disappointed to see the day getting the levels of awareness it has achieved.

Before I launch into a defence of International Women’s Day, I’d like to point out that he was wrong on more than one count: International Men’s Day wasn’t ignored – it was actually the subject of much ridicule and contempt on social media. I wrote a post in defence of it and stand by what I said.

The thing is, we’re sadly in a situation in which we need dedicated days like these in order to draw attention to important issues that are often swept under the carpet. And this takes me on to the main point of this post.

Like any parent, I worry about the world my children are growing up in but it wasn’t until Amelie was born last year that it really hit home that things are likely to be tougher for her than her brothers. Sadly, there is still a huge gender gap and, even in developed countries, this is painfully apparent. Look at how many women there are in top jobs as compared to men as well as the disparity in salaries and you’re only scratching the surface.

In developing countries, the challenges vary from even greater to downright horrific. Access to education is often reserved exclusively for boys, arranged marriages still exist and female genital mutilation is still all too common.

Closer to home, I worry about the pressures Amelie will encounter when she’s older. Our celebrity-obsessed culture isn’t going to vanish and is only going to get worse. What kind of message does it send out to impressionable young minds when people like Kim Kardashian get such immense attention for posting naked selfies every five minutes?

This leads to another issue, that of body confidence. If there’s a pressure to look a certain way, there’s a risk that those who don’t could suffer problems including dysmorphia and eating disorders. Not to mention peer pressure and bullying. Kate was bullied as a teenager – as was I, for the record – so we’re both all too aware of the devastating effects it can have on confidence.

I appreciate that I haven’t gone into any real depth in this post, but thought I’d use it as an opportunity to bring up some of the many reasons why the world is still not equal and that some people seem to be blissfully unaware of.

International Women’s Day should be used as an opportunity to celebrate inspirational women and to highlight things that need to change. And the fact that people are complaining about its existence only serves to illustrate why we need it.

Comments

  1. Jonathan

    I totally agree with what you’ve said here about International Women’s Day. It also really frustrates me to see men complaining about feminism as if it’s some sort of anti-male philosophy. Both International Women’s Day and International Men’s Day provide an opportunity to focus on important issues, and indeed issues that it is in the interests of both men and women to address.

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