International women’s day

by Ingrid Robeyns on March 8, 2008

It’s the international women’s day today – but with “a 6-weeks old baby”:, a 2-year-old toddler, and a close family member in hospital (nothing to panic about), I didn’t have the time or energy to go to any activity or debate. Luckily I have a long list of feminist and women’s issues that I want to blog about in the near future (but with the little one, I think I shouldn’t make too many promises about timing). So in the meantime let me turn this into an open thread. If you celebrated women’s day, what did you do? Any other thoughts or stories on international women’s day? And what should be the priorities of the women’s/feminist movement for the years to come — locally, regionally, internationally?



geo 03.08.08 at 9:56 pm

If you celebrated women’s day, what did you do?

Reread D. H. Lawrence’s Reflections on the Death of a Porcupine. Feminism for the twenty-first century and beyond.


Matt 03.09.08 at 3:10 am

My wife and I celebrate international women’s day rather than valentine’s day- in the US it’s not a hallmark (TM) holiday like valentine’s day, and since it’s the important holiday anyway where she’s from it’s better anyway. We can go out and not have to deal with crowed and “special” deals at restuerants. I recommend making the substitution to anyone who can.


Eszter 03.09.08 at 6:09 am

Ingrid, in the US, few people seem to know about Intl Women’s Day. It’s an interesting contrast to having grown up with it in Hungary.


James Wimberley 03.09.08 at 11:05 am

You open the door to self-advertisements, so here’s my blog post on old ladies and WW II.


Martin O'Neill 03.09.08 at 12:42 pm

International Women’s Day coincides with my birthday, which my wife and I regard as being especially auspicious. I agree with Matt that it’s a much better day than Valentine’s Day, which we boycott!


JANE FLEMING 03.09.08 at 5:06 pm

My first son was born on International Womens’ Day 1974. I had marched in London for the pro abortion lobby past the Embroiderer’s Guild shop, it was heavily guarded by the police [no guns just trungeons then].So I have at least two permanent reminders of International Womens Day.

If you wonder who on earth I am, I was once an SSRC Funded Researcher at Brunel with Professor Silverstone


Katherine 03.09.08 at 5:42 pm

I celebrated by taking my 9 week old daughter to the Million Women Rise march in London. Her first demo – I’m so proud!


Katherine 03.09.08 at 5:45 pm

The march being a march against violence against women, which, to answer the question, I think should be a priority for the women’s movement – in all the geographical categories.

I still have memories of what must have been a major debate in the 80’s, when pressure was being put on the police to take domestic violence seriously and to stop downplaying “domestics”. That is really so recently it’s shocking.


dsquared 03.09.08 at 6:28 pm

I’m rather afraid to say that I watched the rugby, in a pub.


Joanna 03.09.08 at 6:28 pm

It is an interesting thing, this Women’s Day. In Eastern Europe, for instance, up until the fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent wave of democratization – the “holiday” – which to many still echoes with a Sovietized communist dissonance – suffused the women “workers” with universal attention from their male supervisors, flowers – mostly carnations, and bags of coffee – a luxury, if you could get one. Curiously, after the fall of Eastern European socialist-communist dictatorships this loyally upheld tradition died down; with some getting chills at the thought of celebrating yet another pompous communist-era, mostly proletarian holiday, devoid of any substantive grounding, much less a feminist agenda. The discourse around the UN International Women’s Day, in the U.S., in contrast to a European one, is largely “academic”. Those who celebrate are very well aware of the sustained marginalization and inequities perpetrated against women, worldwide. Commendably, nowadays, the International Women’s Day is much less a celebration reverberating the verses of a Shakespearian sonnet, and a welcomed opportunity to stand for all women’s rights.


sharon 03.09.08 at 10:36 pm

dsquared, at least you made it as far as the pub. I just slobbed out on the sofa. I haven’t yet come up with a plausible way in which cheering on 29 huge men + Shane W. battering each other to a pulp on a rugby field contributes much to internation feminism, I’m afraid.

(Speaking of which, when do we get a 6 Nations update from Chris in which we point and laugh hysterically at everyone’s pre-tournament predictions?)


seth edenbaum 03.09.08 at 11:49 pm

For Women drivers in Saudi


H. E. Baber 03.10.08 at 1:08 am

Hadn’t heard about Women’s Day but since you suggested celebrating it I went out and got a bottle of wine. Nice with lemon-lime soda after an afternoon of lawn-mowing.

The priority in the US I believe is to end discrimination and sex segregation in the labor market for WORKING CLASS WOMEN–the two-thirds+ that don’t have college degrees. See to it that working class women have a realistic chance of getting traditionally male jobs in unskilled/semi-skilled manual labor and skilled trades. Sex segregation in these occupations has hardly decreased. Women are doing fine in management and the professions but fewer than 1% of auto mechanics are women. I have yet to see a woman mechanic–or house painter, plumber, appliance repair person, exterminator, electrician, or mobile carpet cleaner.

We’ve established a 3 gender system: men, women, and us–the unisex elite. The activists and writers on feminist issues are members of the unisex us. Most of us can’t imagine wanting to be mechanics, house painters, plumbers, etc. and can’t imagine our daughters stuck in pink-collar occupations because blue-collar jobs are de facto closed to women. So the issues that get us interested are the ones that affect, or could affect, us and people we know: glass ceilings in management and the professions, abortion, parental leave and child care, etc. But we’re a minority, not all women (or men) can get MBAs, law degrees or PhDs, and women who don’t/can’t get BAs are still largely confined to a relatively narrow range of overcrowded, underpaid, dead-end, deadly boring pink-collar jobs.

It’s worked out for me: I did lousy in high school but am at the top of the scale for aptitude and and interest in “mechanical activities.” If it weren’t for Sex Discrimination I would have been shunted off on some “vocational” track and never gotten to college. And much as I like monkeying with machinery and pride myself on my abilities as an automotive diagnostician, being a tenured professor is 37 billion times better than being a mechanic.

But honest to God this is important! There’s a class action sex discrimination suit agaist Walmart that potentially involves 2 million women. In the past there were sex discrimination suits against Sears, Home Depot and the Lucky supermarket chain. These get relatively little attention compared to issues that affect elite women–glass ceilings in management, women’s difficulties in getting onto the partnership track in law firms, stopping the tenure clock, etc. Working class women are turned off from feminism because it hasn’t done a very good job of addressing the issues that affect their lives. And they are the majority.


Otto Pohl 03.10.08 at 6:22 am

Like many other men in Bishkek I gave my girlfriend flowers, chocolate, champange and perfume.


James Wimberley 03.10.08 at 10:12 am

Otto in #14: champange is a lovely parapractical translation for shampanskoe. And it should get round the ferocious IP lawyers of Reims.


Helen 03.11.08 at 12:25 am

Luckily I have a long list of feminist and women’s issues that I want to blog about in the near future (but with the little one, I think I shouldn’t make too many promises about timing).

We’ll be looking forward to it! Feminist-identified mothers, that is. And we won’t scold you if those posts are slow in coming – enjoy your little one and get the rest you need!


Ingrid Robeyns 03.11.08 at 7:43 am

Well, that was a true surprise for me, that women’s day is not known in the US as it is in Europe and other parts of the world. But perhaps not so surprisingly, given “its socialist roots”:'s_Day of the international women’s day… In any case, depending on the history one subscribes to, next year will be the 100th international women’s days, so I’ll try not to forget and will write a more substantive post then.

And the other surprise is that in some parts of the world, or by some people, it is celebrated in a similar way as Vallentyne’s day. I know international women’s day more like Jane Fleming and Katherine – demo’s, debates, oped pieces for the newspapers, debate on the radio. It’s actually the first time I hear about celebrating women’s day with chocolates and flowers are new to me.

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