Do we still need to mark International Women’s Day in 2017?
International Women’s Day has been a term in vogue especially since the advent of the modern day social networking platforms. Although the idea of celebrating this day sparked in 1908 when over 15 thousand women marched through the roads of New York demanding rights like shorter working hours, equal pay and of course universal suffrage or the right to vote. The popularity of this day spread across the globe to soon be celebrated annually as ‘International Women’s Day.’ March 8 is not just a day which celebrates women but also a day marking decades of struggle by both, men and women who stood up and continue to stand up for gender equality.
The theme for this year’s International women’s day is #BeBoldForChange. The theme is imperative given the current socio-political scenario across the world. Enthusiasts are beseeched to defy gender prejudice and discrimination, raise a voice against violence, celebrate women’s accomplishments, and quintessentially back women’s education. This year’s theme is likely to resonate with millions who have come together in dissent and have paraded for transformation and gender parity.
Here is a list of valid reasons why Women’s Day holds significance even today:
Because the pay gap balance still bends towards malesIt is still a man’s world. Be it unequal pay, lack of female CEO’s in global corporate, the inclusion of women in the labor force or women’s participation in the country’s electorate, women still have a long way to go. Gender pay gap in India denotes the blaring dissimilarity in incomes between men and women in the labor marketplace. For the year 2013, the gender wage gap in India was projected to be 24.81%.Men earned a median gross amount of INR 288.68 per hour whereas, women earned INR 207.85 hourly.
Because women need to have their own reproductive rightsReproductive rights should be the prerogative of the mother bearing the child without any intervention from the state. There are countries which do not allow abortion under any conditions. They exercise giant controls upon abortion making it impossible for women to get their babies aborted. As per statistics by the Guttmacher Institute, 225 million women who do not want to get pregnant are not making use of contraceptives. There are 74 million unplanned pregnancies every year, 28 million accidental births and 20 million unsafe abortions taking place. These statistics speak volumes about the share of voice allowed to women when it comes to the state of reproductive rights in the world.
The state of sexual assaults and victim blamingRape is a crime not only against the body of an individual but also against one’s mind. The rapist is probed only if he is caught but the survivor is grilled at every step of the way by every division of the society. There is a gap of a mere 22 minutes between one rape and another in India. According to the 2013 statistics of NCW (National commission for women) more than 23,582 rapes are committed every year. Rapes have been on a statistical rise year by year with 18,682 cases of sexual violence in 2006 to 23,582 cases in 2013. The conviction rate in rape cases is just 1/4th of the total reported. 83% of the rape cases are pending in courts and only 17% of cases reach a final conclusion. Sexual Assaults, molestation and rapes happen every single day and inappropriately, the victim often gets blamed for it. ‘Her skirt was short, she had too much make-up on, or she asked for it.’ Well, that needs a drastic change!
The prevalence of Female Genital MutilationAs per data by UNICEF, at least 200 million girls and women living today in across 30 countries have undergone Female Genital Mutilation. FGM involves partly or totally removing a girl’s genitals to avert any kind of sexual pleasure. Indonesia, Ethiopia and Egypt constitute for over half of the world’s sufferers. 98% of women in Somalia have undergone FGM. Not just the underdeveloped nations, even in the so called developed nations like UK, a case of FGM is reported every 109th minute.
62 million girls aren’t in schoolEducation rates are blaring globally. Currently, over 62 million girls are not in school. Gender prejudices, violence and sexual crimes, poverty and pre mature marriage all constitute blockades which are not allowing women to get educated and lead informed and happy lives. Without education, women face higher crime rates, diseases, and live a suppressed life.
Because, objectificationWomen are objectified to sell a car, to sell a perfume, to sell a sandwich, to popularize a film or a music video and many other situations which do not fit the bill. Cinema is one such area where women have been objectified regressively. Despite our very own Indian cinema completing a milestone of completing 100 long years, things haven‘t changed much when it comes to representing women’s bodies in a grossly violating and exploitative manner.
Concept of ConsentBecause no means no! Most importantly the day is about celebrating the human spirit of equality and envisioning a harmonious society with both men and women treating each other as equal companions.