Looking back on my International Women’s Days is an effective and deeply embarrassing way to track my journey into feminism. Can you relate?
For years, I knew nothing of this date, March 8th. It was officially recognised by the UN in the 1970s, but originated at the start of the 2oth Century. It was born out of the struggle of working class women seeking to form trade unions and access basic rights like reasonable working hours and pay, and the right to vote.
In 1910, Clara Zetkin, a German Communist Feminist proposed the following motion:
‘…..the Socialist women of all countries will hold each year a Women’s Day, whose foremost purpose it must be to aid the attainment of women’s suffrage. This demand must be handled in conjunction with the entire women’s question according to Socialist precepts. The Women’s Day must have an international character and is to be prepared carefully.’
Babes, what happened between then and now? I’ll tell you for free. Absolutely no charge. IWD got Girl Bossed.
When I first became aware of IWD (possibly 8-9 years ago?) I had no idea that some random corporations (more on this below) just bought the domain internationalwomensday.com and declared a theme and a hand gesture each year.
This year it’s #embraceequity and a sort of self hug.
For the first few years I even heard of it, I think I thought it was just a day to celebrate the women in your life. Not totally sure- it’s hard to remember, maybe I am deliberately repressing it.
Somewhere along the way, I started to understand that it was supposed to involve advocating for the improvement of women’s lives in some capacity.
I remember in 2019 it was #balanceforbetter and the gesture was like a set of scales.
I remember it because I can picture the photograph from an event I co-ran with my friend Anna at the business I used to own, Do It Like A Mother. We ran sessions on
- the experience of shared parental leave
- returning to work after becoming a parent and negotiating flexibility
- running your own business as a new mother
- parent and baby yoga
- women’s wellness
Every session was packed with value, and every ticket was just £1. We gifted the panel members with vouchers for local small businesses and paid the prepared speakers their going rate out of our own pockets as sponsorship of the event- we were both financially thriving and excited to do it. And all the ticket money went to our local Domestic Abuse Charity.
And when I look back at this, 4 years on, I think- that was so wonderful. That really meant something. There were gaps, for sure. It was imperfect. But we really did something. We really took action to the best of our ability at the time.
Back to that IWD website then. It says:
International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.
I don’t think Clara would be vibing with this. All the intersection between Patriarchy and Capitalism has been stripped away.
For me now, Feminism, and therefore International Women’s Day must be aligned with liberation for all oppressed groups from all systems of domination. We are at Peak Late Stage Capitalism, and no amount of performative Girl Bossing is going to get us out of it.
Although it’s 5 years old, this is super interesting piece on the people and corporations involved in the performance of ownership of the IWD brand. Perhaps it will not shock you to learn that most of their feminist credentials are… totally lacking.
So what could we do this IWD instead of posting selfies of us doing the self hug gesture?
Here are a few ideas…
- Donate to a cause that supports marginalised women. May I recommend our Community Care Bank at All Rise Collective
- Consume some Intersectional Feminist content. My fave short read is Feminism, Interrupted by Lola Olufemi. Or if you prefer even shorter form, everything on Woke Scientist Ayesha Khan’s instagram (and substack) is well worth reading.
- If you feel equipped and resourced, have a difficult conversation with someone in your life who doesn’t understand why we still need feminism.
- If your workplace are holding an event, ask them if the women running it are getting paid fairly. Notice if everyone on a panel is white, slim, non-disabled…
- Most importantly of course, be ready to let them know it’s November 19th. International Men’s Day is November 19th.
I thought this might be a good time to remind you about this awesome workshop I have too…
Warmest wishes babes,