Celebrating International Women’s Day or the International Day of Women’s Rights? Again for one day (only), women have been at the forefront of speeches and activities in many countries. So far an International Day has contributed to raising awareness, but such a day is not necessarily changing the realities: violence against women, gender pay gap, denial of rights and many other issues. In terms of rights on paper, some progress has been made, but the discrimination of women continues to be a reality. The Nordic countries have set an example of how more equality can be achieved and how necessary legislation is, as the mindset does not change spontaneously. In parallel we see an increasing number of women in business and leading positions in global corporations. Certainly this is one aspect of more equal participation in society, however it does not change necessarily the male all-for-profit perspective.
When it comes to the abhorrent issue of violence against women we reaffirm that there is no excuse, even less so if some blame it on or justify it with cultural or religious reasons. The rape and harassment of women and girls in conflict zones has now been proved publically and while the international community can try to ban it through resolutions, in reality the work needs to be done on the ground. It is about the undermining of standards of civilisation and international agreements. The brutality of war and of the people waging those wars will not be stopped by kind resolutions or appeals.
Maybe it is also time to raise awareness within our European societies that the conservative backlash is not only on economic or democratic issues. There is also the sweet poison of saying that particular gender anti-discrimination policies are no longer needed, that those women who want to be “emancipated” can be, while others do not want it. Nonsense. Reality speaks another language. And lastly we as civil society organisations have also to hold up the mirror to ourselves and have a critical look at where women are in our networks: support workers and / or leaders. The gender pay and other gaps also exist in our world, machismo also exists among the progressives. Therefore the call can only be: fight for women’s rights by measures and actions, not one day a year, but every day and understand that this is essential for progressive and emancipatory movements.
PS: by the way what about a “Spitzenkandidatin” instead of a “Spitzenkandidat”?
This editorial appeared in the Weekly Round Up of 9th March 2018