Last Friday was International Women‘s Day. An important, urgently needed day. The concept for this holiday has been around for more than a hundred years – it has been held on 8 March since 1917. Invented with the intentions to promote equal rights, back then first and foremost women’s suffrage, it is still tackling other issues like the gender pay gap and equal opportunities today. It is also a day to celebrate women’s achievements, yes. And I want to be a part of that, to celebrate all the amazing women in the world, their abilities, their potential. To praise their inventions, constructions, paintings, music, ideas, successes and simply enjoy their company. What I do not want on this day is to buy cheap shit I don’t really need for a large company’s profit.
What annoys me is how commercialised it is. All week I’ve been getting ads for special offers from clothing and make-up shops (“be a strong women, by all means, but look pretty while doing it!”), book shops (“grab your one convenient collection of texts by strong women now, before the special tables disappear and you will have to search for female authors laboriously throughout the shelves again”), even public transportation. What does that have to do with anything? It‘s not about getting new stuff or travelling cheaper.
Flixbus, for example, told me in their newsletter to treat myself or other “strong, amazing women” to a bus trip. They didn’t even offer any discount, they just used IWD as a slogan to sell. What else did they do to celebrate IWD, you ask? Did they give to any charity for women’s advancement? Did they do something nice for their female employees? Of which there are not a lot, and none in the management board, by the way. I doubt it. If you want to jump on the women’s bandwagon and profit from our day, you could at least give something back in return. Of course, I am aware that this is how capitalism works, and it’s the same thing that happens at Christmas and Easter and mother’s day and father’s day etc. etc. But that doesn’t mean we have to be happy with it and accept it silently. So here is my shout-out to all the companies out there: if you make profit by using our slogan, at least give a percentage to women’s charities, or take it to heart yourself and improve working conditions for women in your own firm!
The good stuff that IWD gets going outweighs the irritating BS that some companies try to pull off, of course. Charities collected large sums for women’s betterment worldwide. Thousands of women were marching everywhere to protest, raise awareness and enhance solidarity. Important conversations were started and increased, about women in politics, women at work, toxic masculinity, and the list goes on. Where these discussions will lead us, we’ll see. Big and small gestures were made, that made women feel appreciated and valued. Berlin made it into a holiday. My aunt’s boss brought flowers to work for all female colleagues and patients. That sort of stuff. So over all, IWD is a great and wonderful thing indeed! It’s just that not everyone has really understood it yet.
Full disclosure: I spent the evening celebrating a man. It was my brother’s birthday, and it’s not really his fault that there’s a date collision, is it? He is quite lovely most of the time, so he deserves to be celebrated as well. (Don’t tell him I said that.) Also, that meant I also got to enjoy the company of my mum, my grandmothers, aunts and kick-ass cousins, which is the best crowd to woman up with. And I ordered myself a women’s book: The Cows, by Dawn O’Porter, which I started reading yesterday and am thoroughly thrilled by. It would have been perfect to read on a bus trip – if only there had been a convincing offer!
this note: Happy Women’s Day! To the next year!