It's right there in the name. There's no ambiguity about what March 8 stands for universally.
International Women's Day
Yet, many men consciously and unconsciously shift the narrative to the gender that this day is not about — case in point, PTI Senator Dr Faisal Javed using the hashtag #HappyWomensDay to talk about Imran Khan and his struggles and his achievements.
"Who can pay the biggest tribute to a woman than Imran Khan who saw his mother dying from cancer & opened a hospital after her name paying a great tribute — SKMCH became the only cancer hospital in the World that provides free treatment to over 70% of patients," the Senator tweeted.
Let's pause here for a brief moment to remind everyone what International Women's Day is about:
International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women's achievements or rally for women's equality.
Marked annually on March 8th, International Women's Day is one of the most important days of the year to:
- celebrate women's achievements
- raise awareness about women's equality
- lobby for accelerated gender parity
- fundraise for female-focused charities
Before the troll brigade gears up, no one is undermining Imran Khan's contribution to the society by setting up Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre. But could Dr Javed, on a day dedicated to celebrating women and talking about their struggles and achievements, not refrain from paying a tribute to Imran Khan?
Yes, his earlier tweets from the day include one about women's "spirit of selfless service" and one honouring Fatima Surayya Bajia.
But it is mere lip service if you don't understand what the day is about and really understand the conversations that are supposed to be taking place.
For one, the Senator — and other men who want to be allies — can take a cue from here:
"Celebrate women's achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality."
An example of what you can do — that too from within Dr Javed's party — is that of MNA Asad Umar, who chose to highlight the role of female PTI members and their "integral" contribution to the party's struggle.
"We would not be where we are without the contributions of these women," he tweeted.
It goes back to the same thing: really understand what the day is about and why women are marching. Don't just fixate on the posters — and even if you do, instead of bashing them, try to understand what frustrated women to the point that they had to write something 'brazen' to get society's attention.
Men, you have all the right to heap praise on each other and high-five your accomplishments, but use this day (one out of 365 days isn't asking a lot) to focus on the women in your life — what have they accomplished, what do they want to accomplish, what is standing in their way?
Women continue to fight for their place in offices, public spaces, politics, schools, in public transportation — and when we say this we mean without having to deal with misogyny or harassment — and on Women's Day, they persist in trying to get their narrative across without all the extra chatter drowning them out.
Give them space, let them be heard.