Why do people demonize Women's Day

Women's Voices - Women's Choices: 100 years of International Women's Day

Barbara Unmüßig and Henning von Bargen
... a reason to celebrate and pause. What successes have there been in the struggle for more equality, what hopes and wishes do women have today? What challenges and obstacles do women face today in their pursuit of rights and self-determination? We asked our partners around the world how they view this special birthday. The result is a multifaceted picture of the diversity of realities in life, of political struggles, of regression and progress in the struggle for gender equality, women's rights and self-determination. In the web dossier, women from all over the world have their own say. Our 28 international offices have compiled a wide range of the social reality of women in interviews, analyzes, films and video clips.

Against the background of the current political upheavals in the Arab world, the writer Maissa Bey, one of the most important voices in Algeria, reckons that March 8th this year will be different than in previous years, “because we are aware of the“ wind of change "have been touched." The liberation of the country from French colonial rule did not lead to the hoped-for freedom for women. For example, the "family law of 1984 really gagged young women" and they now want to tackle it. Maissa Bey’s belief is that “there is no such thing as an eternal order” and that women “can work together to remove the obstacles that have always been put in their way.”

The film “Two Steps Forward” by our Pakistani partner organization “Shirkat Gah” also shows that women can play a leading role in social movements. They act as determined "frontline fighters" in the peasant movement against the compulsory introduction of a leasing system for the farms used by the Pakistani military - and they were successful.

“The law is a sleeping beauty. If only half of all existing laws were applied, many things would be better in China, ”said civil rights attorney Guo Jianmei, portrayed by Peer Junker. She has been running a study and advice center for women in Beijing since the mid-1990s, in which 80,000 legal advice cases have been processed to date.

In her historical perspective, Jelena Maximowa describes the fact that International Women's Day turned from the former day of struggle for women workers, at least in Russia, into a day that “marks the quintessence of sexism”. Interviews with various Russian women such as Galina Michaljowa, the executive secretary of the YABLOKO party, convey similar assessments. She primarily blames Putin's policies for the deterioration in the equality situation. For Irina Tartakovskaja, a sociologist at the Russian Academy of Sciences who specializes in gender issues, it is therefore clear that Russia needs feminism as a political movement “as a struggle for actual recognition of equal rights” and “the opportunity to freely choose one's path of life”.

Despite the sharp increase in the number of women in representative positions and political functions over the past 40 years, this has not always led many African governments to act more responsibly with regard to the needs of women. Interviews with women from South Africa and Kenya, e.g. with Eddach Gachukia, chairwoman of the National Women's Council and member of parliament from 1974 to 1983 in the Kenyan parliament, or Julia Ojiambo, Kenya's first woman minister, impressively describe the political needs to improve the situation of women.

For feminists from Serbia, March 8th is not a date with “only” historical significance or a “holiday of hypocrisy”, as Adriana Zaharijevic from the Center for Women's Studies in Belgrade found out in interviews. The day gives the opportunity to “express solidarity with other women, especially as it addresses the inseparability of gender, gender, race and class and brings them together”.

Violence is and will remain an important issue for women and women's movements around the world. In Brazil it is ubiquitous for many women. A woman is physically attacked every 15 seconds. The perpetrator is usually the (ex) partner or comes from the closer private environment of the woman. Stricter legislation and the expansion of the care network for the victims brought progress. Marilene da Paula, program coordinator at the Heinrich Böll Foundation's office in Brazil, shows in her contribution why it makes sense to combine two approaches: the fight against violence against women and the debate on public security policy.

The political scientist Julieta Kirkwood, one of the most important theorists of modern Chilean feminism, clearly points out that conflicts that are viewed as “private” must be understood as political. In her writings she therefore repeatedly focuses on topics such as domestic violence or the demonization of abortion, making them the subject of public discussion. Her slogan “No democracy without feminism” already shaped the women's movement under the Pinochet dictatorship.

As you explore the life situations of women all over the world, we wish you knowledge and desire for further information on the women's and gender policy work of the foundation worldwide, in Germany and Europe.

Barbara Unmüßig Henning von Bargen
Board of Management of the GWI

Barbara Unmüßig

Barbara Unmüßig is a board member of the Heinrich Böll Foundation. She has published numerous articles in magazines and books on questions of international financial and trade relations, international environmental policy and gender policy.

Henning von Bargen, born in 1959, studied sociology, educational sciences, ethnology (M.A.) and diploma in pedagogy. Training in TCI, personnel development and systemic design of change processes. Gender trainer and gender consultant since 1998. Many years of experience in political and trade union education. Since 1997 advisor for the joint task of gender democracy at the Heinrich Böll Foundation. Since 2007 head of the Gunda Werner Institute.

dossier

Women's Voices, Women's Choices - 100 Years of International Women's Day

... a reason to celebrate and pause. What successes have there been in the struggle for more equality, what hopes and wishes do women have today? What challenges and obstacles do women face today in their pursuit of rights and self-determination?
We asked our partners around the world how they viewed this special birthday. The result is a multifaceted picture of the diversity of realities in life, of political struggles, of regression and progress in the struggle for gender equality, women's rights and self-determination. In the web dossier, women from various regions of the world have their own say. Our 28 international offices have compiled a wide range of the social reality of women in interviews, analyzes, films and video clips. more"

Selected articles from the dossier