A daily struggle against paradigms
Celebrating International Women’s Day every March 8 makes us reflect on the heroic role that women have played in transforming our societies. Although they have not always been part of the epic liberating armies, their peaceful struggle has been vital for demand equality, assert their rights and against violence.
International Women’s Day dates back to 1909. In New York City, more than 15,000 women from the Socialist Party of America raised their voices protesting against long working hours, low wages and the lack of voting rights. This annual celebration spread throughout the world.
According to the UN, this day “refers to regular women as architects of history and has its roots in the centuries-old struggle of women to participate in society on an equal footing with men.” Although equality remains a utopia, and the struggle has not stopped. Some gaps remain. We can find an example of this in the work environments, where women suffer greater precariousness, lower wages, participation, and the worst part: they are the greatest victims of violence.
In Canada since December 13, 2018, women’s viewpoints have been reflected in the “Status of Women Canada” by becoming a federal department called “Women and Gender Equality Canada” (WAGE). “Status of Women Canada” focuses its work towards achieving equality for women. Its efforts are concentrated in three priority areas: increasing the economic security and prosperity of women, promote the leadership and democratic participation of women, and end gender-based violence.
Women have played different roles throughout history due to changes in society; in all of them, it has been vital. For centuries women have managed to make significant contributions to humanity in all fields. They rebelled against the system, and that system couldn’t silence them thanks to their merits. And on the other hand, millions of women struggle every day to achieve their dreams, raise their children, and obtain a better place in the community.
History shows how the awareness of the women’s collective regarding the subjection suffered has unleashed a series of movements and struggles that have managed to articulate, depending on the historical moment and the context in which they occurred. However, these women’s movements (feminisms) have not been exempt from criticism and attacks by people or groups who have questioned, according to their position of power and privilege, their discriminatory practices and violence against women and other groups.
Some have wanted to erode feminism by attacking the bases that have turned it into a transversal movement capable of embracing social and cultural diversity. In general, International Women’s Day’s global celebration is a time to recap on how far women have come and act to continue breaking down barriers and paradigms. Such is the case in Finland, which is at the forefront of female empowerment as it is ruled by women. Its Prime Minister Sanna Marin leads a five-party coalition. The new Finnish Executive has an overwhelming majority of women, a total of twelve out of nineteen (63%), something unprecedented in the history of Finland and the world, the first country in the world to grant women full political rights in 1906.
Beyond ideological or gender struggles, women have never put aside their essence, their infinite energy, which allows them to be a mother, wife, lover, professional. In addition to their immense capacity for understanding, based on that duality between fragility and strength, they show the perfect balance of nature. Some have gone deeper and inquired about the mystery of women, like the great Uruguayan novelist and poet Mario Benedetti in his poem: “If God were a woman.” Perhaps a poem opens us to creativity about women’s role in achieving a more equitable and just society.