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International Women’s Day: Timeline, History and Today

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International Women's Day

If you happen to be visiting Romania these days, you’ll be surrounded by different stalls selling Mărţişor (if you’re curious to know what that is, you can learn more about it here) and flowers. Lots and lots of flowers.

You would think Romanian men are the most romantic in the world and they like to pamper the women in their lives with flowers as soon as the first sign of Spring appears. I will not comment whether that is true of not (so girls, you’ll have to find out on your own), but what I can say is that March is considered the Month of Women. 
You might think that is because March is the moodiest month of the year, so it resembles to a woman’s tantrums (guess that is kind of true). The real reason behind it though is that in the first weeks of March Romanians have different celebrations which honor women, one of which is actually ‘Women’s Day‘.
A little history
As we all know, women haven’t been considered equal to men for a long time throughout history. It was unconcievable for a woman to do jobs considered fit for a man only… like being a mechanic or running a company. And even today, studies show that women earn less for the same job a fellow man would do.
March, 8th marks a series of events when women decided to stand up for themselves and try to change the order of the world.
    Women can do it

  • March 8, 1857 – protest of women working in the textile industry in New York, which criticized working conditions and low wages. Protesters were attacked by police
  • March 1859 – New York textile industry employees form their first union
  • March 1908 – 15,000 women protest in New York demanding reduction of working hours, better pay and voting rights
  • February 28, 1909 – first celebration of International Women’s Day, after the Socialist Party of America issued a statement to this effect (it was the last Sunday of February, and it continued to be celebrated like this until 2013)
  • 1910 – the first Women International Conference is organized in Copenhagen and decide to establish an International Women’s Day. The idea was presented by Klara Zetkin as an International Women’s Day to be celebrated on the same day (which was not yet decided) in every country on the globe, symbolizing the efforts of all women in the world for a better life (right to education, right to vote, the right to work and to hold public office).
  • March 19, 1911 – over a million women in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland celebrate International Women’s Day
  • February, 1913  – Russia celebrated International Women’s Day for the first time and decided the date of 8th March as the official date, which remained the same until today.
  • March 8, 1913 – Women in several European countries protesting against the increasing tensions in Europe
  • March 1917 – Reacting to the death of over 2 million soldiers during World War I, Russian women started a protest strike called “bread and peace”, which began on 23 February 1917 in the Julian calendar (March 8 in calendar Gregorian). Four days after the start of the strike, the Tsar (Nicholas II of Russia or Nikolai Alexandrovich Romanov) was forced to abdicate and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote. Alexandra Kolontai- which at that time was the minister in the first government of the Soviet Union – was the one who persuaded Lenin to proclaim the day of March 8 as offcial Women’s Day
  • May 8, 1965 – International Day of Femi is declared non-working day in the USSR
  • 1975 – International Women’s Day was officially recognized by the United Nations. United Nations proclaimed 1975 the International Year of Women, and the period 1976-1985 became the UN Decade for Women
  • 1982 – a number of women from Iran make a very courageous gesture by removing their burkha (a gesture which was illegal)
  • 8 March 2005 – a worldwide march is organized to popularize a “World Carta for Women”
  • March 8, 2009 – The International Committee of the Red Cross warned that nursing women is ignored in many countries at war

Nowadays we have females as minister, women astronauts, women teaching in universities, women who work and have a family at the same time. In the media we increasingly see models of strong and achieved ​women. Although the mentality has changed much from the years when the International Women’s Day was just an idea or from its first celebration, there is still discrimination against women. Although for many of us on the 8th of March is a day of gifts and flowers, love and appreciation, there are still women for which this day represents hope and strive for better. Women are still not paid equally, not present to the same extent as men in politics and business, and domestic violence is still a serious problem even in the present.

Women’s day Today

International Women’s Day is celebrated in the following countries: Albania, Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Denmark, Eritrea, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Guinea Bissau, Iceland, India, Italy, Israel, Laos, Latvia, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malta, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Hungary, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Zambia.
In Arab countries, Muslim women are almost always presented as victims of tradition and patriarchal system of society in which they live. Contemporary history of countries such as Algeria, Lebanon, Egypt include nevertheless female figures who led the country towards democracy.

In Algeria, it is a palpable truth, starting with the struggle for liberation from French occupation, women have fought with sword in hand alongside their men. In the 70s there were always women in parliament and government ministers.

Although it started in the early years of the last century as a social and political celebration, the day of 8th March gradually turned to be a special day when men express their love and affection for women.  Usually men gift flowers to all the women in their lives: mothers, sisters, teachers, co-workers.


Tulips Women's day
Tulips – Symbol of 8th March, Women’s Day, Photo taken by Kıvanç Niş

In Romania and Bulgaria the traditions of the communist era are still preserved and on March 8,  they celebrate Mother’s Day as well. On this day children make gifts to their mothers, grandmothers, and women teachers. When i was little for example, close to mother’s day we would have an arts and crafts class where we would make all kinds of cards and small gifts for our moms. We either painted something or designed using plasticine or even pumkin seeds. Everyone was really excited and tried their best to make the prettiest gifts.

Girl gifting her mom flowers on Women's day
Girl gifting flowers to her mom on Women’s Day

On women’s day you can get all kind of discounts at restaurants, bars, plays (if you are in Bucharest, there’s a nice offer right now at the National Theater), even dancing classes. As it is a day of celebrating women, if you are one you can be surprised by the amount of people who would honor you. It can be just exiting the subway while going to work or when a policeman stops to check your papers or even when you are going to the grocery store.

Policemen giving flowers to woman
Policeman ‘fining’ a lady driver with a flower

If you are wondering what celebrations are organized in your country, you can check the International Women’s Day page, which has posted events for this day around the world.

Oh! Just a little fun Fact: I guess Romanian men felt kind of neglected, since women had their own special day celebrated, but they didn’t have theirs (although there actually is an International Men’s Day celebrated on 19th November – which they don’t know about). So a Romanian beer brand decided to set the score right and they declared the day of 5th May as Men’s Day. Though it’s not a recognized legal celebration, women across Romania decided to play along and just give them extra attention on that day.

Happy International Women’s Day, Ladies!
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Editor | The World Reporter. An economist, IT specialist and a post graduate student from Romania.

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Women

So You Want to be a Female Solopreneur: 4 Things You Need to Do First

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Women Entrepreneur

Becoming a solopreneur is one way that many women create careers that earn them income outside of a traditional employment situation. Solo entrepreneurship is popular and growing. According to The Balance, 41 million people in the United States count themselves as solopreneurs and many of them are making serious money — more than $1.2 trillion for the American economy in just the last year to be exact. This kind of success can happen for you too.

While getting to be self-employed often starts with a dream and a concept, your solopreneur career can also revolve around a unique skill set, but you also need to do a few other things.

Create a Bridge

First, you need to create a bridge. Most women will not be able to quit their jobs and then make enough in self-employment to pay the rent next month. Bridges solve the issue. For some women, they will have enough severance pay or savings to make ends meet until they start to earn enough income to pay the bills. Others will need to take a bridge job — one that involves working fewer hours than you are currently so you have time leftover each day to work on your business.

Build your Brand

Next, you need to build your brand. Writing blog posts, maintaining a social media presence and networking are critical. After all, when you are a solo entrepreneur, you are your business. In general, plan on creating a website and generating some content that is optimized for search engines. You will also need to create a profile on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. On these platforms, you have one job — to demonstrate your knowledge about your industry. This content needs to be sharable, relatable, and authentic, and a little visual magic doesn’t hurt.

Buy Better Technology

You will also need to take a look at your technology. You will need a domain name and hosting for your website to start with, but that is just scratching the surface. You are going to need a good computer as well as a variety of different softwares and apps to help you organize your work. Additionally, you are going to need a phone. Solo entrepreneurs are often on the go. You need a mobile phone that can keep up. Look at powerful smartphones like the Apple iPhone 6s. The screen is large enough that you can actually do some work directly from the device, the camera is powerful enough to take photos you can use professionally and Touch ID keeps your phones secure while making it easy to open apps.

Invest in Services

Finally, invest in services. Your iPhone 6s needs to be on a network with a high-quality carrier; dropped calls simply are not professional. You also need to have enough data to actually take care of your business needs, so look for a carrier that doesn’t charge extra fees as your business takes off and your usage increases. Cloud computing services are also important. The right software will capture and categorize your expenses, manage your projects, organize your files and make running your business that much easier.

If you are thinking about becoming a solopreneur, now is the time. Just make sure that you take the right steps to make it happen. Anyone can say that she is in business for herself, but you have to act like you are running a business to be successful. Take the time to plan, prepare and invest in your vision. Your future as a solo entrepreneur depends on it.

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India

RSS on Women’s Right: Then and Now – Reforming Indian Conservatives

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sadhu india rss conservative

flickr/vineetradhakrishnan

Not long ago, when RSS mooted the idea of replacing its knickers with trousers, I put forth a conjecture — “If you start dressing like an adult, you start thinking like one.”

Today as I watched an RSS ideologue on prime-time news* waxing eloquent on women’s rights during a discussion on triple talaq, my belief in the validity of the conjecture grew that much more.

Now why do I say that RSS has started acting like an adult (and that it earlier wasn’t)? Time for some history.

Sometime around early 1950s the liberal architects of modern India figured that it is a moral imperative that woman be not treated as second class citizens of India. The constitution of India, of course gave them the equal rights but there were still religious personal laws hiding behind which the various conservatives still propagated patriarchy. To correct this, they brought in the Hindu code bill**. It had the “provisions to allow women to choose their marriage partners, to divorce brutal husbands, and to inherit ancestral property.” (Yes, these basic rights, as they may seem today, were not guaranteed to Hindu women (or any Indian women) from time immemorial.) [Read More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindu_code_bills]

Now RSS, one of the foremost Hindu conservative group, was at the forefront in opposing this bill tooth and nails. Their arguments and opinions at the time, as quoted from Organiser (the official mouthpiece of RSS) were eerily similar to those of All India Muslim Personal Law Board in today’s TV debate.

So, let’s revisit them (and I directly quote Organiser via Ram Guha):

1. “[The Hindu code bill] has nothing Bharatiya about it. The questions like those of marriage and divorce cannot be settled on the American or British model in this country. Marriage, according to Hindu culture and law is a sanskar which cannot be changed even after death and not a ‘contract’ which can be broken any time.” Pretty much the line of reasoning that those opposing triple talaq reforms take today.

2. “[The Hindu Code Bill is] a direct invasion on the faith of the Hindus [and…] its provisions empowering women to divorce is revolting to the Hindu ideology” ~ Organiser, November 2, 1949

3. “We oppose the Hindu Code Bill. We oppose it because it is a derogatory measure based on alien and immoral principles. It is not a Hindu Code Bill. It is anything but Hindu. We condemn it because it is a cruel and ignorant libel on Hindu laws, Hindu culture and Hindu dharma” ~ Organiser, December 7, 1949

4. “Rishi Ambedkar and Maharishi Nehru would atomise society and infect every family with scandal, suspicion and vice” ~ Organiser, December 7, 1949

Yes, that’s right — they thought that a woman getting an equal right in inheritance or right to choose her husband or right to divorce would “infect every family with scandal, suspicion and vice”. I think, now 60 years after the adoption of those bills, we can agree that lot of those assertions were mere exaggerations by the conservative patriarchs to protect patriarchy.

So just keep this history in mind as you see and hear various Maulanas hide behind religious customs to protect patriarchy. And remember — adjusting for the standard of women’s right in India, the only reason why Hindu women are a bit ahead of their Muslim counterparts is because the that early architects of modern India happened to be some liberal with a spine.

So, as I watch the khaki pants argue for women’s right, I cannot but feel glad for their change of stance.

But as Guha says — “Organisations, like individuals, have a right to change their minds. But any such change of view must be accompanied by a frank and open reckoning with why and how it happened.”

So, till the time I am clear how this new-found concern for Indian women came about, my support to this government and its ideological mentors will obviously of case specific.

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Women

Women Lead the Way in STEM Fields in the UAE

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Businesswoman with Handheld Device --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Businesswoman with Handheld Device — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

It is an interesting time to be a woman in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Although many would argue that, by global standards, gender equality in the UAE still has some way to go, in one field of expertise significant inroads are being made. This sector, perhaps surprisingly, is science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). In fact, a recent study by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) suggests that in education, including in STEM subjects, women are now outperforming men in the UAE. What are some of the causes of this phenomenon, and what will this mean for long-term employment and the economy?

The 2014 EIU report found that out of 395 female students studying in the UAE, 70% were enrolled in STEM-related courses. The report’s editor, Aviva Freudmann, attributes a strong Government commitment, as a major factor in the increase in women taking up STEM careers. It appears legislation certainly has a clear role to play. In a paper submitted to the United Nations commission on the status of women in 2014, Ms. Lamya N. Fawwaz of the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology attributed the success, in part, to the investment made by governments at the very start of the educational chain. She states that all school pupils encounter STEM subjects at school as standard. In addition, the UAE government has also established a number of female-only colleges, to ensure interests are developed in further education. Universities are also seeing an increasing number of women take up courses in STEM related disciplines, for example accountancy qualifications, engineering courses, and the highly regarded Master of Science in Mathematics (MSMTH).

The result is a positive one, it seems, for everyone concerned. Not only could it do much to improve the confidence of women, and their position within Emirati society, but academics are arguing that the shift could have a major impact on the economy. Consultancy firm Booz Allen have argued that, if a similar set of circumstances in Greece, Ireland and Spain is anything to go by, the GDP could rise by up to 12%. This is based on a growth in STEM careers of 15-20% over thirty years.

Although science and engineering occupations have typically been viewed as male orientated occupations, this shift does seem to suggest an attitudinal change. However, there are still challenges that need to be addressed. The EIU report highlights certain obstacles such as gender discrimination within the workplace, work-life balance, and cultural barriers, which must be overcome for women to truly succeed in all areas of employment. The report poses a number of ways in which the UAE can help sustain and develop the growth, including ensuring there are more high profile female role models and mentors.

STEM careers remain at the forefront of what is a growing and lucrative industry within the UAE. With the gender scales tipping, it will be interesting to see what happens over the coming decades. As far as gender equality is concerned, the UAE is one to watch. 

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