I wrote here two years ago that it was, perhaps, the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, but repeated the same claim last year. Yet all the newspapers and website are full with claiming that the anniversary is today. Never mind. I probably didn’t have the patience in 2009 and 2010 to wait until 2011. Here we are.

There’s quite a lot of attention to IWD here in the Netherlands today. The question why we still need it has luckily not been so prominent this year. This is a nice surprise, since I remember having seen asked this question on the 8th of March for the last… euh.. ten years or so (that is, as long as my memory serves me). I had an interview with a radio journalist early this morning and had prepared for that question, but she asked different ones. My answer would have been: we still need women’s day as long as women are not treated as equals to men, and both are treated with respect and dignity – but that also implies that, at least in some parts of the world but possibly in most parts of the world, we may need International Men’s Day too, since men who do not embrace dominant masculinities have a hard time in some areas too (child custody in some countries; birth leave in several EU countries, for example). If International Men’s Day were to contribute to thoughtful reflections on masculinities, it may well be a contributing to the liberation of some men, and definitely be welcomed by feminist/egalitarian women too. And it may also be a good thing for gay people, if the widespread account that homophobia is in (large) part driven by anxieties over masculinities is true.

I’m always curious to hear what people did on IWD (and recall from last year that some of you buy roses for your wife/girlfriend, which is definitely not the kind of political activities associated with IWD here in Western Europe). I ‘worked hard’ this year: on Sunday I was in a debate on the combination of care and paid work (and what policies are needed) in Amsterdam, and today I joined 6 other students and professors to stage the docu-play Seven, which recounts the true stories of seven amazing women leaders from across the world, who have been strong and inspirational against the odds (since most of them suffered a lot of abuse and violence). As a genuine actress-for-one-day I came home with a bunch of pink flowers, to the great delight of my five year old, who has pink as his favorite color. Happy International Women’s Day!