Until we have a truly equal society, International Women's Day matters. And I'll be the first to celebrate when we no longer need it.
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Why International Women’s Day is important

Happy International Women’s Day – to all my readers.

Coming from a culture where this day never got a mention, I first came across it only about ten years ago, when a good friend and colleague from Belarus brought flowers for all the women in the office.

It has taken me a while to get my head around this day. As a woman who thinks it’s obvious we should have gender equality and equal opportunities, there is no reason to feel celebratory about the fact that women need a special day.

However recently my friend, the author Selina Siak Chin Yoke, helped out when she told me about a great explanation she had found on social media for why gay pride is important: “Gay pride was not born out of a need to celebrate being gay, but instead the need for the right to exist without persecution. So instead of wondering why there isn't a straight pride month or movement, straight people should be thankful they don't need one.”

In western cultures, women might not face persecution, but there are many places around the world where women are still marginalised, kept from participating fully in society, and worse. And even where women have equal rights on paper, few would disagree that we still have a long way to go on our way to a truly equal society.

Until then, International Women’s Day matters. And I’ll be the first person to celebrate when we no longer need it.

Call to action

In this Ted Talk Jimmy Carter draws on his vast experience of working with people from a broad range of cultures, backgrounds and walks of life to bring attention to what he calls “the most serious and unaddressed worldwide challenge” of our time - the discrimination and abuse of women and girls. A passionate call to action.
The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds

If you’re looking for a great read featuring a strong female protagonist, give my friend Selina’s debut novel The Woman Who Breathed two Worlds a go. Set in Malaysia at the end of the 19th century it follows the life of Chye Hoon, a woman who has to take on more responsibility than she had ever been prepared for in order to raise her family in times of rapid change.

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