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It's Women's Day, but what do we have to celebrate?

Today is International Women's Day, Let's take stock

It's Women's Day, but what do we have to celebrate? Today is International Women's Day, Let's take stock

Growing up, March 8th has always been a somewhat perplexing occasion for me. The mimosa flowers, of course. The chocolates. The well-wishes and proclamations from men explaining that women should be respected every day, not just today. As the years passed, pseudo-historical notions crept in – the factory shirtwaist fire in the early 1900s, the deceased female workers, the labor rights. Even that wasn’t entirely accurate. In reality, the origins of International Women's Day, a political and advocacy event rather than one of flowers and remembrance, are rooted in the rich tapestry of movements and changes that characterized early 20th-century Europe, with all its contradictions and inspirations. What we do know for certain is that this day exists and can be useful for taking stock of our situation.

Women's Rights: Where Do We Stand?

One thing we can say without fear of contradiction is that women can vote, open bank accounts in their own names, and step out of the house in pants without (mostly) causing a riot like what happened in Turin in 1911. On everything else, things get more complicated. Women work less, earn less, receive less education on managing personal finances, and are killed simply for being women/leaving their ex-husbands or boyfriends. Our right to decide about our own bodies is questioned every day, accessing abortion in Italy becomes increasingly difficult, we can only marry men, and almost every other day, some government representative encourages us to have children. Gender stereotypes are still prevalent, and even younger generations of boys seem to be regressing, fearing feminism and imbibing misogynistic views from podcasts with a large following. Not to mention trans women, who struggle to be recognized as women, let alone in everything else. And we’re talking about the supposedly civilized (or at least, that's what we're led to believe) West. In other parts of the world, due to historical, religious, or colonial reasons, women live under even more stringent and negative conditions.

A Matter of Awareness

Without succumbing to negativity, let's work on awareness. Awareness that there is still so much work to be done, awareness that we will have to fight, explain, network, protect ourselves for a long time, but also awareness that things can change, have already changed, and will change. One step at a time. A good idea might be to read books and watch movies on the subject, discuss them with skeptical friends, get in touch with local associations, talk, communicate, reflect, and make others reflect on gender disparities, stereotypes, and the pervasive effects of power systems on the relationship between men, women, and non-binary individuals, on how right and center governments try to make decisions for us. And here we pose another question.

How Do You Celebrate Such an Occasion?

In light of all these things, then, we ask ourselves: how do we celebrate International Women's Day in 2024? Not with a cocktail party with friends, perhaps, or maybe yes. Without falling into clichés, however, networking with friends, colleagues, neighbors, and acquaintances could be a first step forward. Participating in protests (on March 8th, many Italian cities will have marches and strikes) is a good idea, always keeping in mind, importantly, the concepts of intersectionality (feminism belongs to all women, without distinctions of origin, biological birth, sexuality, or income, but rather embracing the specific issues of each), and collectivity. When we fight, we don't just fight for ourselves, but for all, and when we try to change things, we don't just address the individual, but also power, politics, and society. One step at a time.