International women's day was established in 1909 to celebrate the success of the women's rights movement. It was mostly celebrated in the USSR until the mid-70's when the rest of the word decided to pick up on it.
The idea is to celebrate and empower women, highlight their accomplishments, encourage their fight for freedom and equality. Sounds great!
Feminism is a fantastic initiative and the vast majority of us support it at least on some level...Except... that's not exactly true.
We fail in recognizing a key word in the title of the day:
We Europeans and North Americans are enjoying the most peaceful time in the history of humanity. We have nothing to fight for, nothing to defend. Most of us wouldn't be able to defend ourselves from an inconvenient doctor's appointment, let alone an uprising militia.
But while we do fight about right wing opinions on YouTube, details of amendments and nationalist viewpoints, we forget that out there, around the rest of the world, things aren't so peachy.
Especially for women.
Women are considered physically secure in something ridiculous like 5 countries. Across the vast majority of the world, their security is considered almost non-existent. But what constitutes as unsafe? Well, to pull one example out the hat, the prevalence of genital mutilation?
FGM is a form of torture, obviously, and is practiced from infancy all the way up to adulthood, but usually up to about the age of 15. It typically removed the clitoris, sans-anaesthetic and is entirely whacko religious belief gone mad. The idea, you see, is to control a woman's sexuality and cleanliness, purity, and for some reason its the society's responsibility to decide what is and isn't proper private sexual behaviour.
In countries like Guinea, the rate of FGM is somewhere along the lines of 99%. Although statistics show FGM seems to - slowly - be on the decline, this international terror should pretty much be number 1 priority on International Women's day.
Except... not until you see what else goes on in the world:
More religious hell.
In an absurd amount of countries, Child marriage is a prominent, legal practice, with what appears to be a dozen nations where over 10% of female children forced into marriage. But hey, at least paedophilia is low, since it's all part of marriage!
For those who might notice their own country in yellow, don't worry, that mostly means marriage can happen at 16 with parents consent, like in the UK.
In fairness, this is not always religious in nature, but comes in a culture that typically adheres to certain religions. Generally as soon as a girl starts to menstruate, they are considered a woman and thus ready to become controlled by a man. Maybe this should be your first priority instead?
If that doesn't take your fancy, how about this:
It's astonishing that trafficking is practiced in the vast majority of the world, perhaps more astonishing than the fact that any country at all figure it's totally fine and legal. For those not quite sure, trafficking is the practice of selling woman as a product for sexual slavery. Again, the vast majority of the world practice sexual slavery.
But hey maybe women enjoy being sex slaves, that's not necessarily rape!
Assuming you are from one of the majority of countries that seem to think along those lines, it's an interesting point. I haven't mentioned rape so far, because it's difficult to objectively put into statistics, especially when, like the next map, the very act of reporting rape is punishable:
Those countries in red may punish a woman with physical violence, exile or even death for reporting rape, even if only accused but found innocent. It's a saving face thing! Wouldn't want to disrespect the family. better to honour kill.
Speaking of which, honor killings of women are on the rise in countries such as Pakistan.
Now it is hard to get an exact number of rape per country since in many, these things simply aren't reported or even considered rape at all, but we can get a statistical feel for how bad it is internationally:
Here we can see that the vast majority of the world has rape on either prevalent or epidemic levels. But hey, it's uncommon or rare in North America and Europe!
What you can do
Our comfortable lives in our comfortable homes with fast and ubiquitous internet dulls us to reality. Barely a day passes when any of us actually think about the fact that millions of women need permission from their husbands to go outside, and must be escorted by the husband, or that millions have missing external organs because for whatever reason, God made a mistake putting it there and needs their elders to fix the problem for Him. We don't realise the extent of which slavery is still legal and heavily practiced around the world, and women are a huge victim of that trade.
All we can really do as individuals, is raise awareness, especially on days like this.
It's all very well celebrating women in science, and if you really want, you can bicker and fight to force celebrity men to actually take a pay cut because it's unfair on women who aren't as famous, and you can waste your weeks away accusing all men of being guilty sexual predators in some of the safest countries on earth where sexual predation almost never happens.
And I commend the practice of showing our young ones the accomplishments of women in the past, and reminding them what great accomplishments they can bring to the world.
But I feel we need to put far more effort into reminding the world that most countries on this Earth are discriminating against women, raping, torturing, enslaving, murdering and generally physically abusing women at alarming levels, purely on the basis that they are biologically female.
This is INTERNATIONAL Women's day. Don't forget that!
All maps come from Womanstats.org, and eye opening and reliable source of data you should all visit for a whole world more of information on the matter