International Whose Day?

Kay Green is a local socialist-feminist blogger, formerly a publisher and book trader, currently waiting for the world to start up again, to find out what she can do/be next.

Here she reflects on last Monday’s International Women’s Day and asks what the event, in its current form, actually achieves? Or is it just another ‘glitzy, virtue-signalling… day?’

Oh hooray, International Women’s Day! Really – no really – if you enjoyed it, good on you. Why not? But now it’s been and gone, can we ask ourselves what it is for?

How many of the organisations grabbing easy publicity with their International Women’s Day (IWD) memes and ads gave a thought to what IWD means, or where it came from?

It was founded at a socialist conference to commemorate a garment workers’ strike in New York, led by young migrant women.

Nowadays, after more than a decade of austerity, after numerous wars and climate crises have set millions of refugees criss-crossing the globe seeking safety, a day that commemorates and honours migrant women would be appropriate, would it not? Are we really going to look into those things with more determination because of International Women’s Day?

  • Are we going to look into why the professions where women, black people and immigrants are more numerous are the ones where the Covid risks were greatest?
  • Are we going to look into why we spent all those Thursdays clapping for our NHS ‘angels’, then got fobbed off with a pay rise for them that’s less than the hospital parking charges they have to pay?
  • Are we going to look into what happens to women migrants in places like Yarl’s Wood, or how poor women, often single mothers, get sucked into the sex trade, where they end up even poorer and more vulnerable?
  • Are we going to look into why such an appallingly large number of our girls and young women are self-harming, and falling prey to mental health issues?

“It’s like national day of the tree – once you have a day dedicated to you, you know you’re f***ed,” Germaine Greer purportedly said.

She has a point.

IWD, and all the other glitzy, virtue-signalling publicity-opportunity days are so cheap and so easy to get on board with – much easier than commissioning real, potentially expensive investigations to find out whether your organisation is oppressing anyone – always assuming your marketing people keep their IWD banners and slogans right off the subject of difficult things like migrant women of course.

So who did get the attention on IWD? I see that newspaper nobody in Liverpool buys used Princess Catherine, presumably to make it clear whose side they are on in that family spat that took up most of the national news on IWD. Very handy for the IWD supporters such as…. MacDonalds…Lockheed Martin…? And other virtuous organisations like them…

Well, Hastings let’s think about some more interesting women. The choice is endless; personally, I’m thinking about Rosanna Leal, local champion of migrants, and Claudine Ecclestone, who I heard in the park at last summer’s #BLM rally, telling us all about what it’s like being a black woman arriving in Hastings, and Tania Charman, who tells me she resolved aged seven to spend her life fighting unfairness to the vulnerable, and spent her time on Hastings Borough Council challenging on behalf of those who might find it hard to speak out for themselves.

Yep – I feel better now. Hope you enjoyed International Women’s Day!

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