Today is International Women's Day. This may be the first time some of you are hearing about the holiday, which has been observed around the world since the early 1900s. It's easy to lose track of holidays that aren't Halloween, Thanksgiving, or Christmas, but International Women's Day, or IWD, serves a pretty important purpose for gender equality at home and abroad. According to Gloria Steinem, "the story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights." That, in a nutshell, is the goal of IWD. No organization or individual owns it, but instead, its message lives in anyone who is passionate about changing the course of history.
According to the official IWD website, their goal is twofold. First, it's about "celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women." And second, it's "a call to action for accelerating gender parity." Gender parity refers to equality between men and women when it comes to things like pay and public status. It's surreal to think that in 2016 women still aren't paid the same as men. While this is something that we wish would be fixed overnight, recent projections place full gender parity a little further off. About 42,705 nights, or 117 years, to be precise. These predictions came from the World Economic Forum, and it's our job to make that number shrink to zero. So, what can we do for International Women's Day?
People all around the world have different ways of honoring International Women's Day. One lovely tradition comes to us all the way from Lithuania, where police officers are pulling over women and giving them flowers. Some people on the Internet have expressed concerns with this gesture, saying that giving flowers to women is sexist and enforces the patriarchy. While there may be some truth to these claims, it all comes down to why the officers are doing it. If these men are giving women flowers because they believe flowers are "girly" and women like "girly" things, then yeah, it's probably a sexist thing to do. But, if these men view flowers as a token of their appreciation, a kind gesture in the midst of a cruel world, then there's nothing wrong with it.
Flowers are a beautiful way to tell someone "thank you," "I love you," or "I hope things get better." These are all things we want to express to women on International Women's Day, so it doesn't really matter what you give as long as those feelings are in your heart. If you'd like to show your support on IWD, the website asks that everyone Pledge for Parity. It's super easy, and it's a great way to let the rest of the world know that you'll do everything in your power to help achieve parity a lot sooner than the year 2133. With that, we'd like to sincerely say thank you to the women of the world.