International Women’s Day has rolled around again. It will be marked today on March 8 with the usual seminars, discussions and other events. Indeed, as commercialisation takes over, even malls in larger cities and eateries are offering special deals and shopping offers to mark the day.
No doubt the person behind the establishment of March 8 as a day for women would be horrified to see this. But today, in the mists of time, few know much about her or her ideology.
Her name, in fact, would be alien to many, including those who organise some of the functions we see each year on this occasion. Clara Zetkin was a devoted and committed German Socialist who stood staunchly for the Communist cause in Europe.
She worked ardently for the party throughout her life and was closely associated with many other prominent Marxists of that age. March 8 was first marked under Zetkin’s supervision in 1910 to raise a voice for women labourers. Today of course, at least in our country, these women who work in fields, factories and sweatshops are rarely thought about or even considered when the day is celebrated.
This is also true of many other nations. If we are to truly make a difference to the lives of women, we need to move a few steps beyond the March 8 festivities alone. Yes, the rights of women need to be protected and their role in society acknowledged.
But we need also to think about why honour killings and other acts of violence against women continue to rise in our country. The problem is linked to their overall lack of empowerment. In such a situation, where literacy rates are low, employment opportunities limited and social status rarely changed for years, laws put in the statute books or discussions held at forums will not change very much.
Far more concrete work is required to truly alter the lives of women and by doing so, recognise the contribution of Clara Zetkin. There has been only very limited attempt over the decades to achieve this.
Source: The Express Tribune