International Women’s Day

Mar 08 2016

– by Light Times, Photo: Shkapparel

International Women’s Day (IWD), originally called International Working Women’s Day, is celebrated on March 8 every year. Its focus ranges from a general celebration of respect, appreciation, and love towards women to a celebration for women’s economic, political, and social achievements across different regions.

Begun as a socialist political event, the holiday blended with the culture of many countries, primarily in Europe, but especially those of the Soviet bloc. In some regions, the day lost its political flavor and became simply an occasion for people to express their love toward women in a way somewhat similar to a mixture of Mothers Day and Valentine’s Day.

The earliest Women’s Day observance was held on February 28, 1909, in New York; it was organized by the Socialist Party of America in remembrance of the 1908 strike of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. There was no specific strike happening on March 8, despite later claims.
Even though the Cambodia is celebrating IWD along with the rest of the world, the real situation of many women in Cambodia is that they are not treated well by men. They are still not yet receiving the respect and appreciation they deserve. In different ways—economic, physical, and mental—they are still being impacted by violence from husbands and partners.

Said one 39-year-old woman with three children, “I work every day in the garment factory. My husband go out to work and comes home the drunkard. He gives less of his income [to the family] than he spends on drinking, and sometimes even takes mine. If I disagree, he hits me; he sometimes even threatens that he will leave home or hurt the children. I am in fear and need to do something to make me and my children safe.”

While the law and regulations have strengthened the position of women, raising awareness on gender issues will help men to change their mindset and behavior toward women in general and their spouse, so that they will stop the violence. And this International Women’s Day, women need to link up with those people, institutions or NGOs working to highlight—and stop—such violence.

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