International Women’s Day gives us so much to Celebrate, Day Without a Woman does not
Shanna Nelson, Outreach Coordinator
Today, March 8th, is International Women’s Day, a day that everyone should be celebrating. Women have made huge contributions to society, and their contributions are hardly negligible. The purpose of International Women’s Day is one of empowerment and one of praise to women throughout history, but unfortunately, this is clouded by a progressive agenda through the “Day Without a Woman” campaign. The “Day Without a Woman” is organized by the same group that organized the Women’s March in January, encouraging women to stay home from work to prove their worth in the work force. This might sound like a great endeavor, but what about women who aren’t afforded the luxury of not going to work or taking a day off whenever they please? Is someone not considered feminist or appreciative of the contributions just because they aren't able to take the day off work to make a political statement?
The Women’s March was a very popular event in Washington, D.C. in January, but came under a lot of criticism from conservative-minded women because instead of being an inclusive event for women to celebrate their own beliefs regarding what empowers women, they decided to push a progressive agenda and ban pro-life women from the event. Many women are pro-life, but the event did not provide women who do not subscribe to the pro-choice message to participate despite being women and wanting to advocate for women’s rights, even if they aren’t the same ideas that others agree with.
International Women’s Day is a day meant to recognize many of the women throughout history that have made contributions to society that have stood the test of time and are still affecting us today. People like Anne Frank, Mother Teresa, Amelia Earhart, Margaret Thatcher, Rosa Parks, Marie Curie, Susan B. Anthony, and many others have contributed to make all of our lives better, but I doubt they did this from taking a day off of work. These women had a work ethic instilled in them to get things done, and I don’t think they would have merely taken a day off work or called themselves “nasty women.” They wouldn't have been worried about a non-existent gender wage gap, the right to end a child’s life out of convenience, or spent their time protesting a president they call “sexist” just because they don’t like the party he represents. These women that we look up to today would be focused on life-threatening issues affecting women on a daily basis both around the world and within the US.
While women participating in the “Day Without a Woman” think they are doing a noble thing and fighting for important causes, there are much more impactful things they could do to help women who are actually struggling around the world. A website has been created this past week, www.daywithoutawoman.com, that sheds light on this issue. This website provides statistics on a number of issues affecting women:
- Approximately 130 million girls and women in the world have experienced female genital mutilation/cutting, with more than 3 million girls in Africa annually at risk of the practice. Over 60 million girls worldwide are child brides, married before the age of 18, primarily in South Asia (31.3 million) and sub-Saharan Africa (14.1 million). Violence and abuse characterize married life for many of these girls. Women who marry early are more likely to be beaten or threatened, and more likely to believe that a husband might sometimes be justified in beating his wife.
- Between 15 and 76 percent of women are targeted for physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime. Most of this violence takes place within intimate relationships, with many women (ranging from 9 to 70 percent) reporting their husbands or partners as the perpetrator. Across the 28 States of the European Union, a little over one in five women has experienced physical and/or sexual violence from a partner.
- In Guatemala, two women are murdered, on average, each day. In India, 8,093 cases of dowry-related deaths were reported in 2007; an unknown number of murders of women and young girls were falsely labeled ‘suicides’ or ‘accidents.’
- Worldwide, up to 50 percent of sexual assaults are committed against girls under 16. An estimated 150 million girls under the age of 18 suffered some form of sexual violence in 2002 alone. The first sexual experience of some 30 percent of women was forced. The percentage is even higher among those who were under 15 at the time of their sexual initiation, with up to 45 percent reporting that the experience was forced.
- Women and girls are 80 percent of the estimated 800,000 people trafficked across national borders annually, with the majority (79 percent) trafficked for sexual exploitation. Within countries, many more women and girls are trafficked, often for purposes of sexual exploitation or domestic servitude.
- One study in Europe found that 60 percent of trafficked women had experienced physical and/or sexual violence before being trafficked, pointing to gender-based violence as a push factor in the trafficking of women.
- Sometimes a bit of perspective is important. So let's stop complaining and start doing. After all, women’s rights are human rights.
Women in the US that have the ability to travel to DC to march or take days off of work freely may think that they have problems in their lives that push them to supporting this organization, but there are clearly much bigger issues in our world for women that are quite frankly, bigger than these. Affluent people in the US do not have a reason to complain as if their rights are being infringed upon in the way that other women’s rights actually are. There are countries where it is believed that one man is equal to two women, that women are only worth half of what men are (Quran 4:11, 4:176). Women in other countries aren’t even allowed to drive, show their faces, or speak unless a man speak to them first. Like discussed on www.daywithoutawoman.com, genital mutilation is a very real issue that has been prevalent in many cultures, including some areas of the US, for too long. This causes severe infection, sometimes leading to death, and many other health consequences. Very few people in the US, let alone women that are provided the luxury of participating in these events, experience anything near what these women go through in their daily lives, but these women are more concerned with the issues they encounter, which are objectively miniscule compared to the issues other women encounter. Women today need to gain some perspective, follow in the footsteps of the women throughout history that we all look up to, and understand that other women have it way worse than we do. But the Women’s March doesn’t care about the objectification and dangerous situations women in the Middle East, Africa, South America, and other areas are going through, it cares about wearing pink “p**sy hats,” complaining about Donald Trump, and wondering why a female receptionist doesn’t make as much as a male engineer.
My question is this: Why don’t the Women’s March and “Day Without a Woman” worry about real issues?
Follow this author on Twitter: @shannadnelson