Celebrate Good Times……Yeah Right!

How did you celebrate International Women’s Day? Did you attend a lecture or conference? Did you participate in any festivities? Did you “celebrate good times?”  If you did, then you were lucky. I say this because not all countries were able to. Some countries are still fighting against violence-still trying to achieve basic human rights. This 100th year of International Women’s Day was filled with violence and a reality check.

In the Sudan, women spent the day being arrested for protesting against rape and rights abuses. Is this how women should be celebrating International Women’s Day? Should women who gathered to protest against discrimination be beaten and arrested simply for voicing their opinions?

In Afghanistan, women continue to participate in self-immolation or suicide to escape physical, psychological, or sexual violence. What is it that makes these women turn to committing violence against themselves? To avoid being beaten or shunned, wives choose to end their lives. Can you really blame them when their only options are to continue to be abused or turned away from shelters that were meant to protect them? How can you celebrate when women are being victimized?

In Sri Lanka, this day was celebrated but many realized that these celebrations are false. On paper, Sri Lanka appears to be working towards gender equality. Sri Lanka ratified the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Sri Lanka has reduced maternal mortality, is providing better access to health care, and has been improving literacy rates among females. On International Women’s Day, President Rajapaska emphasized the role women, and even committed the country to bettering the lives of women. This commitment is intriguing. Why does a nation that recognizes the role of women need to better their lives? 

It is because there is a serious gap between theoretical rights and what is actually going on. In reality, laws meant to protect women are not practiced in daily life. In reality, positive statistics reflect only part of the country. This is because women are living in a culture dominated by men-in a culture that discriminates against women. This culture fuels domestic violence and rape- making them a norm. There is no positive change in this country. What this country has is violence against women.

Rape and domestic violence are highly prevalent, yet no one will address these problems.  Officers blame victims for being raped. The courts take years to prosecute the cases. Domestic rape is considered to be part of a wife’s daily life. No one will stop domestic violence or rape because they are a cultural norm. And we cannot quickly change a culture. 

We cannot fully celebrate this anniversary because we do not have that much to show for it. Sure, some countries have achieved gender equality and are empowering women. But, how can you celebrate when women are still victims of violence? 

Diona Emmanuel 

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

For more information or to schedule an interview with contact press@rhrealitycheck.org.

  • gwmchstudents

    Reading this I could feel the power behind your words. It is already an accomplishment for women that International Women’s Day has been around for 100 years. The event is still a work in progress for much of the world as you have noted. The only way for these “theoretical rights” to become a reality is through the persistence of the women around the globe, like those from Sudan. Women are willing to risk going to jail through protest and to stand up for their rights. It will take a lot of work and the courage of generations of women for all women to be able to embrace the event. We must keep Internation Women’s Day alive in the hope that all women will one day share in the celebrations. 

    ~Catherine P.

  • gwmchstudents

    This was a very similar thought that I was having on International Women’s Day-who and where are all of the women who are struggling to even celebrate the aforementioned day? Do they know we are celebrating and supporting them? And also what inequities are they facing that we do not even know about yet?


    Ally P

  • gwmchstudents

    Thanks for your great post, Diona! I was also struck by how fortunate we are to celebrate International Women’s Day.  There are so many women all over the world who are unable to celebrate for the myriad reasons you named, and yet I was a little saddened to learn how many of my own peers are unaware of the holiday at all.  It merits additional support and publicity so that at least the women and men who are able to enjoy and celebrate this fantastic day realize it exists at all. 


    ~Joanna B.

  • piomi

    Thank you for your great post Diona. Its great to know people of all ages are aware of the gender issues and not only in their country but internationally. I think we have moved on alot in gender equality, and a day like this we need to remember and celebrate what has been achieved first and then think of future targets. I agree with you that there are alot of countries whereby in paper it sounds great, but practically it does not exist, but it is changing, very slowly, but it is happening. Hopefully by the next generation the countries who are behind would have cought up and the countries which have advanced would have improved tremendously, not just in equal rights and access to careers but also pay and recognition for staying at home and looking after the future generation. A different twist to this is that I strongly feel men would be fighting for equal rights for paternal leave and childcare facilities and acceptance for being the stay at home dad, not to be looked down upon or discouraged. So to conclude I feel we will meet half way. When? Who knows.

    Piomi K