Opinion

International Women’s Day: 12 Ways Women Around the World Can Celebrate. Sorta. | Opinion

There has never been a better time to be a woman. Oh, we’re far from achieving equality, but each year brings a little progress. Knock on a door long enough and eventually a man opens it and says, “What do you want?”

We want control of our bodies, control of our minds, and control of our fates. In the meantime, we’ll take a round of golf on your fancy Scottish course.  That’s just one of these 12 ways that international women can celebrate their special day.

1. In Saudi Arabia, go for a drive alone. Until 2018, if a woman in Riyadh wanted to run down to the Kingdom Mall and try on the latest Chanel, she needed a male chauffeur or relative to take her there. And don’t drive too fast. Just before the ban was lifted, the Saudi government jailed a dozen advocates for women’s rights. A year later, many of these activists remain behind bars where they’re being tortured.

2. In the Republic of Ireland, if you’re in the first trimester of an unwanted pregnancy, get a legal abortion. In 2018, voters overturned the abortion ban by a 2-to-I margin. The people spoke loudly because they know that sometimes the “luck of the Irish” doesn’t cover all contingencies.

3. In two districts in the Gujarat state of India, young women can high-five their friends in person, but they can’t use a cell phone to wish them a Happy International Women’s Day. Girls and single women were banned from owning mobile phones in 2016. Once they marry, the ban is lifted.

4. In Scotland, play a round of golf at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews. Founded in 1754, the R&A voted to allow women to become members in 2015. Two years later, the female members still didn’t have proper clubhouse facilities. You wait 260 years to join and perhaps another 260 to get a locker room.

5. In China, sign a petition. It’s not much, but as journalist Leta Hong Fincher explains, “China has no press freedom, no freedom of assembly, no independent judiciary and the world’s most aggressive system of internet censorship and surveillance.”  According to Fincher, thousands of women and men signed a 2017 petition to protest sexual harassment at a number of universities. The authorities promptly deleted many of them. (The petitions, not the signers. Well, maybe the signers, too.)

6.  In Liberia, there’s not much to celebrate since the 2018 Executive Order banning Female Genital Mutilation was allowed to expire.

7. In Australia, go ahead and breastfeed your baby in public. It’s been a woman’s legal right to do so since 1984. In contrasts, Utah and Idaho waited until 2018 to pass laws that protect this right. And the Utah vote was thisclose.

8. In Southern India, climb Agasthyarkoodam. Until November 2018, women were forbidden to trek the second highest peak in Kerala state. 

9. On El Al airlines, stay in your goddamn seat. The Israeli airline was founded in 1949, but it took until 2017 for an Israeli court to rule that El Al employees could not make female passengers change seats just because men wanted them to.

10. In Japan, get married and keep your own surname. Just kidding. In Japan, a husband and wife are legally obliged to use the same last name. In a few rare cases, the husband will go through the lengthy and costly process of taking on the wife’s name. But mainly women are forced to change. The Japanese Supreme Court upheld this law as recently as 2015, bucking popular opinion and advice from the United Nations.

11. In Turkey, female members of parliament can wear trousers to work. It took two years, but in 2013, a lady lawmaker with a prosthetic leg was able to change regulations requiring women to wear suits with skirts in the assembly.

12. In the United States, run for President. The 2016 election proved a woman can win the popular vote. Sooooo close. Now Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, Tulsi Gabbard, and Amy Klobuchar have announced their bids.

Nell Scovell is the author of Just the Funny Parts: And a Few Hard Truths About Sneaking Into the Hollywood Boys' Club. Follow on Twitter @NellSco.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own.​​​

Editor's Pick