Celebrating women one day a year isn’t enough

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International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8 gives the global community a chance to acknowledge women, past and present, who have made political, economic, social, and cultural strides toward gender equity. However, when it comes to addressing the struggles women face on a day-to-day level, IWD still misses the mark. 
 
In the 109 years IWD has been celebrated, women have made significant steps toward equality.  But there’s still a long way to go to overcome the systemic issues women continue to face every day, and IWD celebrations need to do more to recognize this. 
 
The day, if celebrated at all, should acknowledge and bring attention to the issues that disproportionately affect women around the world, including pay disparity, racial inequities, gender-based violence, equal employment and educational opportunities, and period poverty.
 
These inequalities disadvantage women and bar them from accessing the same opportunities as their male counterparts, let alone achieving the same success and impact as the women who often serve as the faces of IWD.
 
Women also face undue discrimination based on their gender. It speaks volumes that there’s a need to highlight women who were able to overcome gendered barriers to make great achievements while it’s expected for men to find success. Women who rise to positions of power are often viewed as exceptions, and it highlights the patriarchal narrative ingrained in our society.
 
This year in the United States, there were an unprecedented number of women running for the Democratic nomination, the most diverse slate of candidates in US history. And yet, with the race boiling down to two men, Americans have shown us they are still not ready, nor do they truly believe, that a woman is electable enough to be president. 
 
Gendered issues like this aren’t communicated through IWD’s mandate, and they can’t be solved by celebrating women once a year. Tackling the systemic issues facing women will take a concerted effort—and more than one day a year. 
 
There are global commissions and on-campus organizations such as Queen’s Female Leadership in Politics and Queen’s Women in Leadership that promote the empowerment of women. Perhaps the women’s movement needs even more political allies and corporate champions to help advance their mission. 
 
While IWD should continue to acknowledge women’s successes, the day needs to shift its focus to shining a light on the oppression, inequalities, and injustices facing women internationally, and how we can work to abolish them. 
 
Beyond IWD, it’s clear that we need to stop setting aside just one day to celebrate women if we hope to inspire timely change. 
 
It’s important to remember that feminist achievements help women move toward gender equality the other 364 days of the year too. 
 
Sasha is one of The Journal’s copy editors. She’s a second-year political studies student.
 

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