Wednesday, March 5, 2008

March 8: International Women's Day

"Don't be so 3/8! Behave!"

When I first heard this in Taiwan, I didn't know what 3/8 meant. I was an ordinary girl being scolded by an ordinary adult trying to mold me into what a culturally acceptable woman should be.

Then I realized that 3 referred to March, the third month of the year, and 8 to the eighth day of the month.

So 3/8 referred to March 8th, International Women's Day, the day to commemorate the political, economic and social rights and advances of women. And yet in Taiwan, it was used as a term to refer to girls who were silly, outspoken, assertive, and otherwise "misbehaving."

Rather reinforces the need for an International Women's Day, don't you think?

There are many events happening around the world and in our hometowns to mark International Women's Day. There will be marches and speeches, poems and songs about how far women have come, what rights we have now, and how far we have yet to go, what barriers we still face because of our gender.

There will also be everyday women, going about their everyday lives, living their lives as if their lives and aspirations were as important as everyone else's. Because they are.

And ultimately that's what all our women's rights struggles are about. Equal access to jobs, schools, health care, and lives free from sexual harassment and violence should be the norm, not the exception.

Equality will be achieved not only by mass protests, lawsuits to fight discrimination, and community organizing. Equality will also achieved by the everyday actions of women asserting their rights in everyday situations.

And that's a great way to commemorate International Women's Day too.

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