Why a women's day but no men's day?
My tribute to the International Women's Day, March 8, 2001.
Why dedicate a day exclusively to the celebration of the world's women?
Because women naturally tend to behave in female-gendered ways, they
have been vulnerable to confinement to female status by social,
political, religious and other institutions. They have accordingly been
subordinated to assume only inferior, servile social roles. The historic
subordination, silencing, and imposed inferiority of women (beginning as
often unwanted girl child), has been invisible because it has been
considered as a simply natural feature of society. There is a
traditional believe that women's "natural place" is in the home and
their natural function is rearing of children. Burmese men find it very
difficult to accept women as their counterpart. Everywhere in the
world women continue to be victims of violence and rape. Women of Burma
are the ones who have to sacrifice under the military dictatorship. And
yet they continue to find ways to survive and resist the military regime
with inspiring grace and humor.
The history of women's struggle started 150 years ago. On
8 March 1857, women working in clothing and textile factories in New York
City, in the United States, staged a protest. They have fought against
inhumane working conditions and low wages. Following the declaration of
the Socialist Party of America, the first ever National Women's day was
celebrated in the United States on 28 February 1909. Women continued to
celebrate it on the last Sunday of that month through 1913.
The first nation-wide Burmese women's organization was the "Konmari" association, founded in 1919. The aim of this association was to promote the
knowledge of Burmese customs, religion, and traditions amongst Burmese
Since those early years, Women's Day has assumed a new global dimension
for women. For women, the symbolism of Women's Day has a wider meaning. It
symbolized how far they have come in their struggle for equality, peace
and development. The United Nations General Assembly has recognized on
the fact that peace and social progress require the active participation
and equality of women. It is becoming increasingly recognized that an
individual's health status is determined not only by chance, genetic
inheritance and the geographical availability of nutritional resources,
but also by socioeconomic factors. Women's vulnerability to sexual
subordination, produces harmful health consequences in women extending
beyond pain, indignity, unwanted pregnancy, and venereal infection.
At the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, representatives
of 189 different countries agreed that inequalities
between women and men have serious consequences for the well-being of all
people. The final document issued by the conference (called the
"Platform for Action") had this to say:
"The advancement of women and
the achievement of equality between women and men are a matter of human
rights and a condition for social justice and should not be seen in
isolation as a women's issue".
Until the rights and full potential of women are achieved, lasting
solutions to the world's most serious social, economic and political
problems are unlikely to be found.
- United Nations report, 2000
- More women's voice, by the Thanakha Team, 2000
Dr. Khin Saw Win
This commentary is based on a posting Dr. Khin Saw Win
made in the soc.culture.burma newsgroup and the FreeBurma Yahoo! Group on 2001-03-04. The posting has been edited for inclusion on the Burma Watch
International Web site.