“Women Hold up Half the Sky”, is a quote by the famous communist party chairman Mao Zedong, they are the other half of the human species, and are major nurturers of the future. Today we see women actively participating in all walks of society and contributing to it, be it technology, education, research and development, information technology and many more. They occupy parliamentarian roles and are engaging in contributing to society and to the economy. But, this was not the case for a long time.
March 8th of every year is celebrated as women’s day and to bring light to the issues women are facing with respect to discrimination at work, bodily autonomy, abuse and violence against women. Women historically have been denied various rights and privileges men enjoyed, if we were to apply today’s standards they were highly discriminated against, it was a norm to not let them out of the house and ask them to fulfil their duties as a mother and wife and nothing else, and in employment, the most they could do were secretarial duties or farm work, their accessibility to education was minuscule. The concept of law and society began nearly 9,000 years ago, and the stark contrast of benefits one gender received over the other, is appalling.
In the early 20th century, things started to change although gradually, women started to rise up to the unfairness they were subjected to and started to demand equality, they fought for the right to vote, and this was a major milestone in securing their future by their own powers. This was what the first wave feminism was all about, giving women a choice, instead of being told to accept their forced roles. A woman acquiring the power to vote was the first step to creating a just and equal society. We have truly come a long way from that period, though some nations like India had voting inbuilt into its constitution, some had to undergo challenges before it got cemented into their laws. Democracy can only thrive when every able adult has a say in how their country is being run.
This paved the road to women’s education, historically the amount of women being educated was close to nonexistent but today, according to UNESCO girls and boys in secondary school are 90% and 89% respectively, this goes to show how far we have progressed in the past century. Education was previously a luxury only the ruling classes had access to, and women even if educated they weren’t allowed to practice their education, but now education has eliminated all barriers and everyone has the right to it and the UN adopted it as a fundamental right. No matter the place, education is the key factor for any individual to live a good life, seek employment and earn a living.
United Nations officially recognized international women’s day on 8th march 1975 and has continued to commemorate it every single year since then, women’s day is celebrated or given official holiday status in many countries, its customary for men to give flowers to their female colleagues and loved ones, various nations have memorials to commemorate this milestone. Every year the UN has a theme for women’s day and this year the theme was “DigitAll: Innovation and technology for gender equality”
“DigitAll: Innovation and technology for gender equality”
To elaborate on this I’d like to mention Caroline Criado Perez’s book “Invisible Women: Exposing data bias in a world designed for men”, lot of infrastructures of society are heavily built by men which barely cater to women. The tech world is extremely biased against women and there are numerous examples to show for it, the ergonomics of a driver's seat of the car is extremely disadvantaged to short women which can cause fatality upon accident, and it wasn’t until recently that female crash test dummies were being deployed for car crash testing, voice assistants are receptive to male voices but it fails a lot to recognize female voice commands. These biases are rampant in all walks of tech and there needs to be conversation of lot of tech developments being inclusive to women.
Tony stark says “it’s an imperfect world, but it’s the only one we got”. There are flaws everywhere, cracks in the system, but changes require time. We should not give up in the painful transitions, though a lot see women’s day as just a day on a calendar, it is more than that, it’s a memorial to show that people struggled to reach where we currently are, what we currently take for granted was an impossible dream barely a century ago. We should honour that.