International Women’s Day 2011: Take Time To Reflect

The world was very different 100 years ago when this day was first observed. We were still 3 years from the First World and a women’s suffrage was gaining momentum in the UK.

But that is not where the fight started. The Socialist political movements on the eastern side of an Iron Curtain that didnt exist decided that women needed more rights. And by more we are talking about some of those that are taken for granted today.

I sit in an open plan office and today I heard a man asking why women need a special day to celebrate what anyone can do. That came from a place of ignorance more than anything else and illustrated more than anything why a day like this is necessary.

One hundred years ago a woman couldn’t vote, couldn’t run for office, could not get equal pay for a job(and sometimes couldn’t get that job) among a whole host of other things that patriarchal society denied them.

The liberties that some enjoy did not come without a concerted effort towards suffrage. In effect in many places across the world today, women are still denied basic human rights, because they are women.

As recently as under 5 years ago, a woman in Zimbabwe could not register the birth of a child without the presence or consent of the father. That may sound silly but we are talking about a country that has a had woman as a vice president for over 6 years now, not to mention the fact that she among other women had been holding significant political office for years before that.

Such simple things that make the process longer for women are maintained and become part of the status quo. That just becomes the way things are and then the statement ‘There is nothing we can do about it’  is uttered. Kinda smacks of the so-called white moderates in apartheid South Africa or racist Rhodesia who were happy to enjoy the benefits of the system and pay lip service to the struggle for equality that the majority was fighting for.

This is a time to reflect, not as a feminist, not as a radical, but as a human being. There are certain rights that are not exclusive to anyone that we continually either actively or passively deny women. We enforce and re-enforce so many stereotypes that provide so many setbacks for the struggle to be human.

On this day, I salute every woman that has drawn breath on this earth.