CHENNAI : The International Working Womens’ Day, more popularly known as ‘March 8th’ or ‘Women’s Day’, has just passed. I believe that remembering the word ‘working’ may have radically changed the wishes we sent and received. Here’s how they might have been: On this day may you remember and live the dreams of your grandmothers and theirs that burnt at stakes, and staked all they had to fight for the life you have.
This Day has been celebrated for just over a hundred years, but it is exactly a century ago that a hard won right to vote was begotten by those who believed it will change our lives. This year, use the right, vote anything but it, and bring about the change you can for this country.
I recognise the unpaid work done by you and thousands of other women around the globe that amounts to 43 times the annual turnover of Apple Inc.
Thank you for being a multitasking mother, daughter, sister, helper, cleaner, and most importantly worker.
You are not ‘just a housewife’. You are the social reproducer, planner, strategist, controller of finances and official worrier that keeps the household running smoothly, and contribute a great deal to the nation’s economy without even realising it.
Women’s Day offer: I promise henceforth to put in emotional labour, to do without being told or asked around the house, and share the burden of household chores and child care.
You may be told you are goddess — weapons on multiple hands replaced with cleaning equipment, but keep in mind that even goddesses are not free in this country.
You are a woman, whatever the choices you have made. You are a woman because you have used your agency, crossed the line and some rules.
Transwomen, women with disabilities, and every women deemed not woman enough is good enough to be in on festivities and offers. The celebration includes you!
Whatever it is the body that is carrying your heart, you are seen, and loved. Big, dusky women to be confident every single day — just one is not enough to erase cultural and historical trauma that has been caused. Most will be unable to afford it, but everyone deserves to imagine themselves in Sabyasachi everyday. Let’s build a better world before a big designer wardrobe.
Don’t allow women’s day to be commodified. What you’re being given for free and at discounted rates — the bouquets and the body massages — hide behind them your rights and sisters (who are workers) that are exploited by our collective consumerism, even when done with ‘care’ and ‘responsibly’.
Let it be said once more on this day that you have a right to work. All work is work; even that which does not happen at desks and over meetings. Women run the world, sometimes from homes, from kitchens, from their tailoring machines, and also through their bodies.
In a year that has seen #MeToo and #timesup, may we have a world with safer workspaces, and long documents dishing out all the possible informal work spaces — most working women in this world belong to the informal economy.
May you have the power to speak up against sexual harassment, and may you not lose your job for doing so. May the perpetrators be held accountable instead of taking off on an ‘ i n t ro spec t ive sabbatical’.
Let’s pledge to build the gender pay gap, and set minimum wages for all. Let there be leave for domestic workers, space for street vendors, safety for sex workers, and unionising for all work. May you get that job you want because of what you bring to the table irrespective of your biology or your biological clock.
Glass ceilings exist and deserve to be broken, but let’s talking about the transforming contexts before celebrating that women have reached the tops of military complexes, surveillance agencies, and banking jobs.
In the theme of #balanceforbetter let there be balance in panels, board rooms, news rooms, film sets, income and savings, and every space that needs to be balanced by the presence of women, Let there be more mic passing and less mansplaining.
Finally, because women deserve to be seen and heard all the time, and because this is Women’s history month (for being able to remember multiple stories of great and everyday women, of feminist fights and everyday feminist acts), keep them wishes coming — modify the above, or make up your own all these themes — just don’t forget the word ‘working’.