Equity is Key – Why International Women’s Day is still needed

By Manon van Hastenberg - 15 March 2023

March 8th is my birthday. I was born three weeks early – so either I have really been impatient my entire life (I could have been a spring baby!) or the feminism has been ingrained in me since birth. This implies that for the last 5-10 years, I have been overwhelmed with love on my birthdays; as people all around the world celebrate the victories, achievements, and strength of people with vaginas. However, it also means every other ‘Happy birthday!’ is followed by a ‘What is the need for such a day, we are all equal, right?’ or the worse ‘Why is there no International Men’s Day?’. Fyi, there is actually an International Men’s Day (November 19th, if you’re interested), although the need for such a day escapes me. It seems that other than March 8th, every day of the year is for men. For the people wondering why a day like this is necessary, please talk to the people with vaginas in your life and ask what they think about the equality between the genders. 

If you don’t feel like doing that – being vulnerable is tough, I get it – let me take you through my opinion on it. I have already written about femicide in a previous column and how we are not enraged enough about this in the Netherlands. In the meantime, I have actually been put right and had to adjust my facts: it’s not one woman every 10 days that gets murdered, but one every 8 days. International Women’s Day (IWD) is still necessary because people with vaginas still get paid less for the same work. Because unpaid work such as rearing children, household chores, and taking care of family – the majority of which gets done by not-men – does not get recognized as labor. Because safety tests for cars get done with male dummies, which makes cars that much more unsafe for women. Because women suffer disproportionally from the effects of climate change and we’re not doing enough to combat it. Because when a girl makes a rape allegation, the first question asked is ‘What was she wearing?’ rather than ‘Are you okay?’. Because we don’t know nearly fucking enough about female healthcare. Because men balk at the notion of male birth control, while the birth control pill has not been updated in decades and women taking it are being told that the side effects taking over their lives are normal. Because women speaking up on anything have been called hysterical for way too damn long.  

On a personal level, a special day is required because I still text my boyfriend my live location when I cycle home after dark in the city where I have lived for the last 4+ years. Because when I started my job in tech, my male co-workers had to be told to take it down a notch with the locker room talk and sexist jokes now that women were joining the team. The fact that such a conversation had to take place shows how they knew it had been inappropriate all along. Men still think it’s alright for them to comment on our appearance in the workplace and to make remarks on how we are so privileged to be where we are and should not complain. The word ‘feminism’ should never be uttered anywhere in a corporate space. It’s too aggressive. And it’s normal to engage the one woman in the office and expect her to explain the importance of IWD in a room full of men. If she then says it’s because even in the Netherlands every 8 days a woman gets killed by an (ex)partner or family member, the response should never be ‘Men also suffer from domestic violence by the hands of women’.  

Yes, men also suffer. That’s the whole thing. Taking it back to International Men’s Day (bear with me for a second); I read the theme for this year is ‘Zero Male Suicide’. Although many people still think feminism is about raising women above men; it is truly about equity. Freedom from bias or favoritism. A world where people with vaginas can become CEO and not be questioned about their needs to procreate, but also a world where men can be allowed to cry and are not taught that violence is the answer to everything. It’s not just women that are hurting under the current system, it’s men too. This feels like a desperate plea; but if you can’t be in it for the pain of women alone, be in it for the fact that men also get to benefit.  

With that, I would like to end this column with the actual definition of feminism. It’s not just a bunch of angry women ranting about how they want more, but yes, we are getting angry at this point and we do want more. For all of us.  

Feminism is a range of socio-political movements and ideologies that aim to define and establish the political, economic, personal, and social equity of the sexes.  




P.S. I wrote this while listening to Raye’s debut album (My 21st Century Blues), so some of the ‘woman scorned’ in this column might be due to some of the more empowering tracks on there ? 


Intermate is the study association of the bachelor Technical Innovation Sciences, the majors Sustainable Innovation and Psychology & Technology and the masters Human Technology Interaction and Innovation Sciences.


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