Thursday March 8th 2018, also known as International Woman’s Day. A day to celebrate achievements and progress of women through history, a day to praise the strong women who we admire and a day to campaign and press forward for more gender parity. So what is not to love about these things? I understand seeing men question “but what about international mens day? (19th November if you care to look rather than just complain) but why was it so common for me to see other women and girls questioning and dismissing this day that they should surely benefit from?
Should a day with such deep roots over the past more than a century really bring about such a dismissive attitude? I take pleasure in being able to drive my children around, having the option to remove them from school and take responsibility for their education, in being able to choose to work, to be able to follow the news and to vote. I love that my daughter is growing up able to choose what she wants to study, that we are able to go out on a cold day wearing jeans and hoodies and big boots. I love that she will never be in a job that will require her to wear shoes that cripple her feet.
I long for her to live in a world where women are spoken to in a professional manner in the same way as men. I long for her to live in a world where if she chooses to have children and then go to work she wont constantly be asked “who has the kids” while her male colleagues shake hands and greet each other with jokes. I long for her to live in a world where mothers don’t have to ask their partners to “watch the kids” while fathers are able to come and go. I want my children to live in a world where access and achievements in education, training and employment are not affected by gender. Isn’t that what all parents of daughters want? Isn’t that something to strive for?
The history of how women were treated is clear and plain, women have faught and died for the rights that we so take for granted today. There are so many greats, so many makers of history, game changers. There are movies about them, books upon books written about them. Emmeline Pankhurst and her suffragettes, Katherine Johnson and the other “hidden figures” of NASA. Mother Teresa, Florence Nightingale, Amelia Earhart, Katherine Hepburn, Indira Gandhi, Marie Curie. even, love her or hate her, our first female prime minister Margaret Thatcher. Are these world changers not worth a day to celebrate? Are we as women, our mothers, our grandmothers, our daughters, not worthy of a day to acknowledge and celebrate our freedom from past oppression and to campaign for that bit more progress world wide? Men, do you not want a better world for your daughters, sisters, nieces?
Sadly I think that some of the posts regarding international women’s day across social media serve only to highlight how much further we as a nation have to go to achieve widespread gender parity.
So what about international men’s day? Celebrated on 19th November to focus on men and boys health,, improving gender relations, promoting gender equality, and highlighting male role models. It is an occasion to highlight discrimination against men and boys and to celebrate their achievements and contributions, in particular for their contributions to community, family, marriage, and child care. There is the recognition of the number of absent fathers, and of those families where even if the father is around studies have shown that the average father spends less than 10 minutes a day one3 to one with his child. Because in the same way that so many women in the workplace are discriminated against, so too are men in the home. My own father experienced the discrimination as a widower left to raise me and my brother. We all see the “dad dressed the baby” jokes, the dismissive depiction of men being incapable around the home. Why as a woman am I told that I am lucky that my husband helps with childcare and housework? We both live here, we both use stuff and the children are ours, we both made them, It isn’t lucky, it’s how it should be. Lets stop putting our menfolk down, because if as women we know that we can perform equally academically and in employability then shouldn’t we also acknowledge that our menfolk are equally able to parent?