Why you should care
Because the whole world will be watching.
This is an OZY Special Briefing, an extension of the Presidential Daily Brief. The Special Briefing tells you what you need to know about an important issue, individual or story that is making news. Each one serves up an interesting selection of facts, opinions, images and videos in order to catch you up and vault you ahead.
WHAT TO KNOW
What’s happening. Tomorrow is International Women’s Day (IWD). It’s a global celebration of the social, cultural and economic achievements of women. It is also a call to action, especially in a year that has already seen women all across the world rise up to protest issues of mistreatment and equality, from #MeToo to women’s marches. The organizers of this year’s IWD are pushing for gender parity worldwide under the theme “Press for Progress,” and women across the world will be sharing #PressforProgress images, messages, memes and selfies on social media.
Where it’s happening. Protests, performances, panel discussions, seminars and more are scheduled to be held all across the world. In Spain, for example, women will not work for 24 hours — at their paying jobs or in their homes — to show that “if we stop, the world stops.” Around 60 busloads of women in a “conscience convoy” have also set off on a 745-mile journey from Istanbul to the Syrian border to highlight the conditions of imprisoned women in Syria.
HOW TO THINK ABOUT IT
Socialist roots. It’s tough to pin down exactly when IWD was born, but a key date is 1908. That’s when 15,000 women took to the streets of New York City demanding suffrage and better employment rights. After that fateful march, the Socialist Party of America embraced their cause and a year later, a congress of women from 17 countries agreed to a proposal by German social democrat Clara Zetkin to make IWD official. IWD is an official holiday from Afghanistan to Cambodia, and Vietnam to Zambia, but not in the United States.
It’s going global again. The movement’s gaining global currency again these days — just look at last year’s International Women’s Strike, during which women from more than 50 countries went on strike from work. Part of the goal, organizers said, was to “boycott local misogynists” in their communities. Women are also making strides in many traditionally macho professions and cultures, from the growing number of female sommeliers in Argentina to the female driving instructors who are opening roads for women in Egypt.
Still, many voices remain unheard. While women’s strikes and rallies can be effective protest tools, some argue that they miss the point … and a great deal of women. Many rallies have been mostly populated by privileged women because most others — like those who account for two-thirds of the U.S minimum wage workforce — simply can’t afford to hit the streets and give up a day’s pay. Some companies will be heard on IWD: For instance, McDonald’s will have special packaging, hats and crew shirts at 100 locations across the United States.
And women are still pressed for progress. Women’s rights are being “reduced, restricted and reversed,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres observed in 2017. And according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report (2017), the global gender gap is actually widening for the first time in a decade. Such a regression, the report argues, puts women on pace to achieve 50-50 gender parity in 217 years.
WHAT TO READ
This Is the Way to Truly Celebrate Women, by Asma I. Abdulmalik in Arab News
“I firmly believe every day will be women’s day when we stop celebrating it once a year, just like we do not dedicate a day to celebrate men’s achievements.”
We Need a Feminism for the 99 Percent, in The Guardian
“Public silence about something we have always known, endured and fought back against, does not exist simply because we are afraid or ashamed to speak up: the silence is enforced.”
WHAT TO WATCH
Career Insights and Advice for International Women’s Day From Australia
“Just keep tapping away, use a sledgehammer if you need to. Be persistent, and if we all keep doing it, [the glass ceiling] will shatter.”
Watch on the University of Technology Sydney on YouTube:
Grown Women Discuss Feminism With Hello Barbie
“Barbie, do you know what second wave feminism is?”
Watch on YouTube:
WHAT TO SAY AT THE WATERCOOLER
Massive women’s labor strikes are nothing new. On Oct. 24, 1975, nearly 90 percent of Icelandic women refused to work, cook or look after children. Thousands of youngsters were forced to accompany their distracted fathers into work that day, thereby plunging the country into chaos — and proving the women’s point.