Somebody said that congratulating a woman on International Women’s Day is like congratulating someone with aids on World Aids Day, and I find that pretty accurate. This day, the International Women’s Day, does not exist to be happy about being a woman. This is not another Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, it’s a day that exists because this is a man’s world and we have to fight to change that.
Normally I spend this day in Sweden, and can be upset enough about the wage gap, societal norms that forces women and men into narrow stereotypes, rapists who go free time after time because the courts rule that the men ”didn’t understand that it was against her will”, and people’s complete incomprehension of these problems.
Picture one: 19th of November, International Men’s Day
Picture two: 8th of March, International Women’s Day
– Why isn’t there a MEN’S DAY?
– Guys CAN DO IT too, right!
– But the men? Who cares about them?
This year, however, I am not spending in Sweden, but in Honduras. While the statistics of Honduras (still very high) murder rates has been decreasing during the last years, femicides (the assassination of women for gender related reasons) has increased with 263 % (!!!) between 2005 and 2013. In Honduras, one woman is killed every sixteen hours for no other reason than her gender!
I am currently writing my bachelor’s thesis in social anthropology about women in the capital Tegucigalpa and their perceptions of violence and safety in the city. Because of this, I have been interviewing regular Honduran women about the subject. Sadly, several of the interviewees admit that they are searching for a way to get out of the country mainly because they just don’t feel safe here.
My interviewees told me stories about domestic violence, violence in the streets and while taking public transport, sexual harassment, and threats of rape and death. Likewise, my friends has also told me stories – students being sexually extruded by their teachers at university, and even girls being killed by their boyfriends. It seems like almost every woman in this country has encountered gender based violence or discrimination of some kind.
That is why this day is still very necessary and why we need to keep fighting for the women of the world, this day and all other days of the year. Sadly the ones who do are also exposed to violence – last week Berta Cáceres, environmental activist and human rights activist was murdered in her home here in Honduras.
Cáceres death has shook the country deeply and also got international reactions. For her sake, for all the activists who are putting themselves in danger for the sake of justice, and for the sake of an equal society, an equal world, we need to keep addressing these issues and fight for equality.
So no, this is not a happy day and I don’t want to be congratulated until women and men have equal rights and equal power. But it is an inspirational day, it’s the first day of the rest of the feminist fight. It’s a day to empower the woman, not because she is worth more than a man but because she is worth just as much.
Photo by my colleagues at CEM-H at today’s demonstration in Tegucigalpa.