8th March is a universal occasion celebrating the social, cultural and economic achievements of women, thus calling for more gender equality. This is something that has been observed since the 1900s – an era that saw many ups and downs including industrialisation, women’s suffrage movement, racial inequality and over all enlightenment.
International Women’s day highlights the status and achievements of women with various backgrounds and bears the question, “if men can, why can’t we?” This isn’t a day set by a government, country or religion. Yet it is an occasion that most institutions jump at to support. From people running for office, businesses, media and any other high profile category it’s one of the first causes to gain support. Organisations declare IWD themes, events and various other ways more supporting this agenda.
For all of us who grew up and studied in Pakistan, we saw our fair share of division. Especially when we were educated to know better and only saw more of the opposite go on around us. While our socio-economic background would have helped in looking past our constraints, no one can ever deny what goes on around us. Be it traveling around the city alone, being allowed (or not) to study till a certain level or getting jobs after struggling only to learn that you wouldn’t be receiving the same pay as men. According to Noble Peace prize winner and symbol of feminism in Pakistan, Malala Yousufzai “If one man can destroy everything, why can’t one girl change it?”
However, the world has definitely seen a change in attitude in women as well as society (a lot of them) regarding women’s equality and independence. While most people from the younger generations would look around and assume most of the issues have been solved and a major change already taken place, it’s only the older generation from the 70s and 80s who can truly attest to the difficult and complex mindset of a patriarchal society. There are more women in CEO positions, boardrooms, getting fellowship grants and even some are running for office as of 2017. But do these women get paid equally to their male counterparts yet? Sadly no. The United States of America, known as the Free World, is still 70 cents to a dollar regarding gender wages. While much progress has been made there is still a long road ahead.
Therefore IWD encourages unity, celebration, camaraderie and advocacy year after year. It’s something that has occurred for over a century and it’s influence spreads with time.