So, I have to write something for the International Women’s Day (IWD).
I think, and then I think some more.
I go look at the IWD website for inspiration. It says the theme this year is “Connecting girls, Inspiring futures”. I also find out that the UN theme is different: “Empower Rural Women – End Hunger and Poverty.”
So, every country and organisation has a different theme for Women’s Day. Right. Can I weave a story out of this? Something different; a new angle, perhaps? Maybe I could talk about how silly it is to have different themes when the purpose of celebrating such a day, any such day, is to unite for a common cause?
I shrug aside the idea. I start writing. After two minutes, I stare at the text on my monitor and want to kick myself.
“Women all over the world celebrate International Women’s Day because they are aware that such a day exists.
I only wish the above statement were true.
Maasi Sakeena, a fifty something maid at a well-off household in Islamabad, has no idea what it means. For her, Women’s Day begins and ends the same way as any other day when her Begum Saab has guests over: cleaning, mopping, washing, listening to insults, working harder and faster because the guests will be here soon and returning home to her paralyzed husband who lays waiting with his daily repertoire of suspicious insinuations.
Oh lord! What utter, self-righteous, pretentious, hackneyed bullshit!
Then come the questions: What could I write that would be different? What could make it worth the effort for me and for people who would be kind enough to actually read it?
What is there to say that hasn’t been said already since this day started being celebrated back in ‘75?
I turn to Facebook and Twitter, I ask people.
Hardly anything on Facebook, (perhaps my “friends” aren’t all that interested in what I have to say as I thought they wereL); on Twitter, I get responses from a few people. The ideas are good, but none of them ‘click’.
I begin to panic.
Every single word, every idea, every article, seems so useless, so fake. I’m not, by any means, saying that the day itself is useless; I just feel we don’t really DO anything useful to warrant it.
What good are the articles printed in every paper and written on every website? What good are the walks, meetings, talk shows, seminars and special events planned for Women’s Day? I know, it is “a step towards a better world” and all, but how is it empowering anyone, let alone women?
This year’s theme is about rural women, last year it was “Equal Access to Education, Training and Science and Technology: Pathway to Decent Work for Women”. How many women did that help?
2011 saw a “6.74 per cent increase in ‘reported’ cases of violence against women in the country.” Reported cases? What about the women whose cases weren’t reported?
The number of crimes against women rises with every single child born in this country.
It rises each time a mother tells her daughter to ‘obey’ her brother; each time the sister is told to give up all her toys to her brother ‘because’ he is “her brother”, and each time parents do not accept that this daughter has the same rights as her spoilt, bratty brother.
It rises each time a father abuses a mother in front of his young son; each time the son idolizes this father and unconsciously mimics him as an adult, and each time the mother does not stand up for herself.
It rises each time a woman berates another woman for being brave enough to speak out; each time a woman tries to demoralize and discourage another; each time a woman tells another that she is ‘Westernized’, immoral and a bad role model for demanding her rights; each time a woman looks down upon the woman walking down the street wearing jeans, and each time she gossips about her ‘slutty’ acquaintance with her husband to prove her own righteousness.
Celebrate women’s Day, by all means. But first, look inside yourself, look inside your homes, look around you!
Tell me this.
Is it better to attend that seminar where everyone will spew rhetoric mnemonics and fancy, elaborate words, eat, drink and then go home after a day of networking with potential clients, employers or ‘the guy who could come in handy some time’; or to spend that time changing the way our mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers think? Ask yourself.
Originally published on Easy Narrative