International Women’s Day (8 March) (Originally called International Working Women’s Day) is a global day and ranges from general celebration of respect and appreciation to a celebration for women’s economic, political and social achievements in past, present and future. The first International Women’s Day event was run in 1911, so this year is the 100 Anniversary.
In Norway we celebrate both by wishing all women a happy women’s day, and by a peaceful demonstration march through the centre of the city to congratulate the women on their progress and bring focus to current society issues involving women. I was at this event (explain why later : -) and gladly take you with (click pic to bigify & enjoy):
Started as a Socialist political event, the holiday blended in the culture of many countries, primarily Eastern Europe, and the previous soviet countries. In many regions, the day lost its political flavour, and became simply an occasion for men to express appreciation for women. In other regions, however, the original political demonstrations regarding human rights and social awareness of women’s struggles are in focus.
Norway has a good standard of living for women and strong social rights to promote equality. The Norwegian government is made up of approximately 50% women and 50% men. Women in Norway have 10 months fully paid maternity leave after the birth of a child, and in an attempt to encourage men to be more active in the home; men have four weeks of leave for the exclusive use of new fathers. If the father does not use his so-called father’s quota to be home with the baby for one month, the family loses their right to this portion of the leave period. After the special father’s quota was introduced in 1993, the percentage of new fathers who took paternity leave has increased from 45 to 70 per cent.
The establishment of a special Gender Equality Ombud has made Norway known throughout the world as a country that values gender equality. Norway, which was the first country in the world to have a Gender Equality Ombud which has the duty of enforcing the Gender Equality Act whose 20th anniversary, was celebrated in 1998.
Among other things this act requires equal representation for both sexes on public committees and boards. The rule was strengthened in 1988 with a “60 – 40 rule” for all committees with more than four members. In other words there should never be less than 40 per cent women on a public board or committee.
So to celebrate this special day my crazy activist wife recruited the entire family to the demonstration march. As most of my regular readers know my wife works at the Oslo Women’s Shelter and is active in women’s issues.
The shelter marched for awareness of domestic violence and carried signs: “Abuse of the mother, is abuse of the child” , “Break the silence”, “Violence against women is not a private matter!”, and “92 women killed by partner violence since 2000”. They marched together with a group called “Hvite Band” (White Ribbon) which is a men’s group and carried banners which say “Real men don’t hit.”
Other issues represented were protests against pornography, protests against the use of prostitutes, International women injustice, and rights for women of minority background. So here is a salute to all the women out there. Where would we be without you??