International women’s day: a day to commemorate, not to congratulate
As we know, International Women’s Day is celebrated every year on the 8th of March. In every part of the world, there are people remembering women history and taking different actions to ask for gender justice. However, we could say that it is not a day to celebrate the existence of women, the 8th of March is a day to commemorate all women who fought for our rights and all women who are still doing it.
The history of that day goes back to the year 1857 when the 8th of March, the woman workers of a textile factory in New York protested due to the harsh working conditions. Years later, in 1908 happened a similar event: the garment workers in New York went on strike because of the bad conditions. However, the most remembered episode took place in 1911. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City was the most harmful industrial disaster in the history of the city. The incident claimed the lives of approximately 140 people and the majority were immigrant women. This misfortune showed the bad conditions that women were being subjected to. That year, more than one million people took the streets across Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland for women’s suffrage and labor rights.
After World War II, the United Nations (UN) is formed in 1945 to foster international cooperation and in its charter, consecrates gender justice, specifying ” equal rights of men and women”, but it was in 1975 when the UN began celebrating International Women’s Day. Since the beginning, it has been progressed in terms of laws and policies, which have marked the advancements related to this issue. For instance: the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) was ratified by 189 states and the Beijing the Fourth World Conference on Women: Action for justice, Development and Peace was signed by 189 states.
Figure 1: Atcha Kutscher, M. (2019). El grito de las mujeres. El País semanal. Retrieved from
As we can see, it has been lots of years of fight in order to both genders have the same rights and opportunities but unluckily, we are not in that point yet. Currently, it still one of the worldwide challenge that we are facing. According to the Sustainable Development Goals, to achieve gender justice and empower all women and girls would have to be fulfilled by 2030.
As we can appreciate, the intensive struggle for woman’s rights deserves a day to commemorate and raise awareness, not for being congratulated. In all of these years of protest, some media have shown a wrong image of this day, becoming it into a day in which we must congratulate all women we know. As a consequence, you would have noticed that some friends or relatives are the first to congratulate you for the International Women’s Day. It is obvious that there are good intentions behind these actions, and also, they try to recognize all the effort. Nevertheless, it would be interesting if all of us could reflect on which is the most useful way to commemorate this day.
If we congratulate women we are ending up celebrating feminine, not the fight for equal opportunities and rights. If we think about that, it sounds really weird to be congratulated as a woman for being born a female. Even if we go deep, we can recognize an infantilizing point on it. There is a strong awareness among men and women about that we are not in the same starting point. So, if we have a special day to congratulate ourselves in that way, we are assuming that a woman has to be happy for being a woman, even if people know that we do not have the same opportunities in life.
As we said, achieving justice
is a global challenge that requires the contribution of women as well as man. This world needs conscious people about gender issues, people capable of talking and discussing it. Women have claimed their spaces for many years and it is time for man to support them. There is a need to be together on it and to perceive the International Women’s Day an opportunity to join forces in order to go further as a society towards real social justice. If we want to transfer an education based on equal values, if we want to leave a better world to our children, it is time to act.
International Labour Organization. The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire and International Women’s Day: 100 years on. Retrieved from
The Conversation. (6 of March 2018). International Women’s Day: Reminder women must keep fighting – everywhere. Retrieved from
United Nations. International Women’s Day 8 March. Retrieved from
United Nations. Sustainable Development Goals. Retrieved from
UN Women. Women of the world, Unite!. Retrieved from