Do we still need Women’s Day?

5 Mar

“Why are we still celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8th?” people sometimes ask me. “We’ve got equality now. What’s left to fight for?”
It always makes me think of my gran, who is almost 94 years old. She was born in March 1919, the year in which Dutch women got the right to vote. But most women did not have a lot to choose. My gran could not finish her school, since she had to look after the house after her mother passed away. And from the moment she got married she was legally “incapable”: according to Dutch law (which was only abolished in 1956!) women had to ask their husband for permission to withdraw money from a bank, get insurance or to travel alone. Untill 1971 the husband was officially the “head of the household” and women were bound by law to oblige.
In the mean time, my gran has seen her daughters and granddaughters graduate, seen her son marry a man and universal suffrage, something her mother could only dream of, is common in most of the world. Two generations and nearly a hundred Women’s Days later, we’ve come a long way. I travel the world all by myself, earn my own living and don’t have to ask anyone’s permission to withdraw money from the bank. But we’re not quite there yet. Women still earn about 18% less than men. Women are still underrepresented in politics, business, academia and media. And one out of three women is confronted with violence. In other words: plenty of work left to be done!
For me, International’s Women’s Day is a day to commemorate the progress made by our mothers and grandmothers. But also to keep fighting for the opportunities of our granddaughters. Why? We’re worth it.

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2 Responses to “Do we still need Women’s Day?”

  1. Evelyn Sennema March 5, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

    Well said (written) Kirsten!

    • kirstenvandenhul March 5, 2013 at 4:43 pm #

      Thanks Evelyn! Nice to hear from you!

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