Women’s Day deserves more active recognition

Courtesy of Armend Nimani

Last Friday was March 8, International Women’s Day, which serves as a focal point to the women’s movement worldwide. 

Last spring, I studied abroad in Santiago, Chile. On March 8, the city shut down. It was only my third day of school, because the semester started late and when I showed up, the campus was empty. In fact, all the students had voted not to come to school because it was International Women’s Day. This was so bizarre for me because never in my life would someone suggest that schools shut down to celebrate the holiday. Women crowded in the streets and the city erupted in protest. It was crazy to me that the entire city of eight million people had stopped and protested because of the International Women’s Day. 

This year on International Women’s Day, people protested all over the world. In Pakistan, people called for an end to violence against women, with thousands of people demonstrating in the streets of every major city. In Kyrgyzstan, women rallied with signs that read “We need rights 365 days a year.” In Italy, thousands of people took to the streets in protest of the murders of women by their boyfriends and husbands. In Spain, tens of thousands marched in all of the major cities. In England, women dressed up as “handmaids” from the bestseller “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, women marched through the streets of the largest city in protest of the ongoing conflict in the region. In Poland, thousands of women took to the streets of Warsaw to protest the government’s failure to move quickly reforming abortion laws. 

While women all over the world were protesting, I was sitting in class as usual. Something about that did not sit right with me; why did I feel like I had to attend class that day? Why were there no protests that I could attend? 

The United States ranks 43 out of 146 countries for gender equality. According to the United Nations, Mexico, Peru and Colombia all rank higher than the United States. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, over one in three women in the U.S. will experience some form of intimate partner violence during their lifetimes. Since the overturn of Roe v. Wade, women all over the country, including all women in my home state of Tennessee, do not have access to safe and legal abortions. 

In the United States, women are granted only 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave, and there are currently no laws protecting paternal leave. According to the International Labour organization, women should be granted up to 18 weeks of paid maternity leave. This list of well-documented inequalities goes on: chairs, countertops, cars, office temperatures, phones, computers, voice-recognition, construction equipment and even seat belts were all designed for the average man (5’8”, 200 lbs). 

 We should be angry. We should be protesting. So why are we not protesting? Why are we not canceling school and taking to the streets and screaming for our rights? In the United States, why are women not taking a stand on this day? Even Portland, which is considered one of the most liberal cities in the country, does not have an International Women’s Day Protest. Lewis & Clark, where the population is 60 percent women, why are my female classmates having to raise their hand while my male classmates feel comfortable just blurting out the answer? Why do our “gender neutral bathrooms” in JR Howard have urinals in them? More importantly, why have we accepted this as our reality? 

The world does get better, as we have seen. Just over 100 years ago no women could vote in the U.S., and it was only 60 years ago that women of color gained the right to vote. In the past 50 years, women in the U.S. have gained the right to no-fault divorce, a credit card in their own name and  having birth control while unmarried. Yet we are still seeing inequalities all over the world. We should not be treating March 8 as another day, we should be treating it as a day for women to continue fighting for equal rights for all.

Subscribe to the Mossy Log Newsletter

Stay up to date with the goings-on at Lewis & Clark! Get the top stories or your favorite section delivered to your inbox whenever we release a new issue. 

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

AlphaOmega Captcha Classica  –  Enter Security Code