International Women’s Day: Have you tried screaming?
Like Deborah Frances-White and her legion of loyal podcast fans, I too am a guilty feminist, so to utter the sacred words, I’m a feminist but… I’m apathetic about International Women’s Day.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be the first to tell you how great women are, but International Women’s Day feels like tokenism.
In the grand scheme of things, yes, we’ve made progress – women can vote, marriage is no longer an economic necessity (at least in Ireland), contraception is freely available, we can work, drive, run for office – but, when you pinch the world map and zoom back in, suddenly that bird’s eye view of things doesn’t look so great anymore.
There are fundamental problems we need to tackle; gender inequality, the treatment of women in Iran, period poverty, endemic violence against women, transgender rights… the list goes on (and on and on). The issues we’re facing are numerous and grave in nature and one measly day of chanting “Slay queen!” doesn’t really constitute doing something about it if you ask me.
Just last week, my sister (who is a student nurse) text me to say that she left her shift at the hospital only to be greeted by a group of middle-aged men protesting against abortion outside. Sigh. It feels tiresome to have to say “my body, my choice”, but seems that even in 2023, that’s still a necessity…
Rent is extortionate, monthly bills are almost unpayable and the opportunity for career progression here is extremely limited. All of my friends are emigrating and I feel stuck in a system that is essentially pushing me out the door. According to one study, more than 70% of young people in Ireland aged 18-24 are considering moving abroad… I’d say that figure is considerably higher given that all but a few of my childhood friends have moved to Australia or New Zealand in the past three years. It doesn’t feel like Ireland, much less Dublin, wants me.
That’s not necessarily a women-specific issue, but it’s hard not to feel disillusioned with life here at the moment. Just yesterday, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan claimed that making public transport free would result in “an increased level of unnecessary trips” (cue Teresa Mannion)… and I just don’t have room to care about anything else anymore.
Nice as the sentiment of a day dedicated to celebrating women is, it’s not enough. This isn’t a hallmark holiday to mark with a clichéd greeting card and while recognising the social, cultural, political and economic achievements of women and girls around the world is important, IWD should act as a reminder that there’s still much to be done.
As per the official IWD website, it’s about “accelerating gender parity” – the gender pay gap means that Irish women effectively work for six to seven weeks of the year for free… safe to say we’re definitely not there yet.
So, forgive me for rolling my eyes at the idea of an International Women’s Day luncheon. Pay me, then we’ll have eggs benny.