Women’s Day is NOT a celebration of women

Today is International Women’s Day and a groan can be heard around the world, in the voices of bass and baritone: “Oh no!” Millions of men around the globe google the opening hours of the nearest flower shop, they buy chocolates and children are encouraged to do crafts so that mom gets a small gift for Women’s Day.

You can do anything, but it has exactly nothing to do with the idea of Women’s Day. The truth is most men don’t understand why we need an Internation Women’s Day and, to be honest, neither did I at first.

Women’s Day is NOT a celebration of women, but is intended to serve as a reminder of the lack of steps toward genuine equality. The fact that it has been around for more than 100 years is by no means an expression of a sentimental sense of tradition. It is simply the case that equality continues to be a beautiful dream and not a lived reality.

When the New York trade unionist Rose Schneiderman said in a speech in 1911 that female workers needed Bread and Roses in equal measure, she had no idea that she was making history at that moment. “Bread and Roses” became a poem, a striking slogan, and finally a popular song of the trade union and women’s movement.

Rose Schneiderman was a Polish-Born American, and the most prominent female labor union leader.

Bread and roses stand for wages and a decent life. According to the message, the two are inseparably linked -both are denied to countless women to this day.

So don’t let yourself be pursued by groaning men who claim that with the introduction of women’s suffrage 100 years ago, the chapter on gender equality should be regarded as closed. This is not the case.

In many cases, women are still paid less for the same work. To make matters worse, questionable traditions, gender images, and expectations lead to many women striving for or being pushed into fundamentally lower-paid professions. At least four out of five part-time employees are women, and two-thirds of employees in mini-jobs are also female.

The reason is often the expectation of how a family should be, and what a woman should do. The sad normality is that women do the majority of the care work. They take care of the household, children, and relatives in need of help in a special way.

The consequence? According to a recent study, women have an average of 30 minutes less free time each day than men. I know it’s true in my household, I just never thought about it, until now. How it is normal for us to work more, and ask for less is mindblowing.

The growing issue of poverty in old age also has a female face. Because lower wages, reduced working hours, and a lot of unpaid care work logically do not lead to great pensions. The result is further dependencies. On the one hand, from the partner, and on the other hand, however, also from the state.

If it cuts social benefits in times of crisis or, for example, increases VAT (Value Added Tax) then this particularly affects people with lower incomes and therefore predominantly women. Unequal treatment runs through entire biographies for decades and intensifies further and further.

No, not everything has been achieved. And no one has to -and should- be satisfied with what has been achieved. Not a woman but not a man either. Because equality is not a kind gift with bows around it, or candy for which you have to thank them kindly, equality is the claim and promise of our basic law: “Men and women have equal rights.”

There are opportunities to demand this matter of course and to fill it with life 365 days a year. Not only on March 8th.

So, don’t buy your wife flowers or candy. Ask her to sit down and rest for 30 minutes, while you clean the kitchen or get the kids ready for bed. 🙂

Bread and Roses

As we go marching, marching
In the beauty of the day
A million darkened kitchens
A thousand mill lofts gray 

Are touched with all the radiance
That a sudden sun discloses
For the people hear us singing
Bread and roses, bread and roses 

As we go marching, marching
We battle too for men
For they are women’s children
And we mother them again 

Our lives shall not be sweetened
From birth until life closes
Hearts starve as well as bodies
Give us bread, but give us roses 

As we go marching, marching
Unnumbered women dead
Go crying through our singing
Their ancient call for bread 

Small art and love and beauty
Their drudging spirits knew
Yes, it is bread we fight for
But we fight for roses too 

As we go marching, marching
We bring the greater days
For the rising of the women
Means the rising of the race 

No more the drudge and idler
Tender toil where one reposes
But the sharing of lives glories
Bread and roses, bread and roses
(Bread and roses, bread and roses) 

Our lives shall not be sweated
From birth until life closes
Hearts starve as well as bodies
Bread and roses, bread and roses

Lyrics by John Oppenheimer


40 thoughts on “Women’s Day is NOT a celebration of women

  1. I didn’t know that background on the phrase “bread and roses,” Bridget. Very interesting. I don’t have anything to add beyond saying that you’ve said it well, and I stand in agreement. There was a time I felt more hopeful, but I wouldn’t say that fits me well at all today. We still have a lot of work to do.


  2. Thank you so much for this… I had no idea International Women’s Day was 100 years old. It wasn’t on my radar at all until the years I was a single Mom. Life was so much harder for me, financially, during those years but the workload was actually lighter: one less person to take care of and pick up after. I gained a great deal of personal pride during those years, knowing I could stand on my own two feet. And oh, I was conscious of and grateful for all the women who had paved the way for me to be able to stand so tall…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Beautiful ! Yes, I feel we are, in some ways going backwards. So many young women who can’t post a photo without filters and retouching… like being perfect is the most important thing. There are new ways of keeping women down coming along every day. Patriarchy just discovers new and legal ways of doing it. It’s getting tiring, yes… but can we afford to give up the struggle ? It does worry me.

    But thank you for this inspiring post- it leaves me feeling somewhat refreshed 🤗

    Liked by 4 people

    • I am grateful for every reader on posts that are dear to me.
      The other day I asked a friend to watch a German/Austrian TV series on Netflix, because now you can select the language and you don’t have to deal with undertitles. She said, “How do you know it’s not an American series?”
      The answer was easy. “Because all the actors have their real teeth and you will see wrinkles. 🙂
      What was supposed to be a joke is sad reality. I hardly see an older actress age with dignity and I find it so sad. What bad influence they are.
      When I listen to what is going on here in the US, how some women vote against women’s choices, I feel like I am sitting in a wrong movie.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Pingback: Women’s Day is NOT a celebration of women — The happy Quitter! – Peter's pondering

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