Monday, March 8, 2010


Today, 8 March, is International Women's Day. Since 1893 when New Zealand became the first country in the world to give women the right to vote, women's emanicipation has come a long way. It strikes me as strange that women have to struggle to win what should rightfully be their birth rights.

Speaking as a woman born and bred in Malaysia, I am fortunate that I have the right to vote, to be educated, to earn a living, speak freely, and choose my life partner. But women here are still discriminated against in many areas, including employment, salary, inheritance, custody of children in divorce cases. Gender bias is still encountered on a daily basis.

While my counterparts in the west have made remarkable progress on the road to emancipation, enjoying freedom in almost every facet of life, the same can't be said of the majority of women living outside the west, especially those living in many parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. We are living in the 21st century, yet there are cultures that still adhere to age-old practises which discriminate against women.

In patriarchal societies, women have no or limited access to education. They are viewed as second class citizens. They have virtually no say in anything. Abortion of female fetuses is still practised in India and China. Child marriage is condoned, despite statistics showing that underage pregnancies often lead to death for the young mothers during childbirth.

Let's not even go into sexual harassment, rape and sex trafficking.

So is there cause to celebrate Women's Day today? Well, I'll lift my glass of teh tarik for a toast, but it would be premature and presumptious to open a bottle of champagne. Not yet anyway.

Just for the record, 8 March 2011 marks the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day. Is there an International Men's Day? Yes. It is celebrated on 19 November. Next year will be the 12th anniversary celebrations - almost a new kid on the block as far as anniversaries go. Why the late start for the men? Go figure.


Anonymous said...

aiyah, women r very sum-pat ones & give a lot of woes to men : dat's why they r woe+man = woman !
Adam made huge mistake by exchanging
his rib for Eve who ate the non-halal
fruit thus causing pain for ALL !!

Anonymous said...

Hey ! that's agony in ecstasy lah !!