International Women’s Day is just around the corner according to feminists women’s day is in danger of becoming little more than a corporate Mother’s Day, with companies jumping on the springboard to whitewash their products rather than endorse women’s equality. With brands giving discounts and offers on International Women’s Day products from pretty roses to hipster T-shirts inscribed with slogans such as “Woman Up”, equal rights campaigners have called on such companies to take action and donate to grassroots level causes on this International Women’s Day, which takes place on Sunday 8 March, rather than using it as a promotional opportunity.
Vivienne Hayes, chief executive of the Women’s Resource Centre, said in a statement that this use of International Women’s Day by companies is part of the co-option of feminism and women’s equality into a much more mainstream position, which has led to the corporatization of the advancement of women’s rights. There’s a risk that Women’s day becomes an event a bit like Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day instead of giving visibility to the impact that women are making around the world.
Hayes is also a leading figure in the Million Women Rise march, for which thousands of women will head to central London on Saturday to protest against violence against women and girls. All members are volunteers and the event, in its 13th year even though it has no corporate sponsorship or formal funding from any Company or Organization. It is strictly a women only march and if a man wants to participate, they are politely asked to babysit children while your mother, partner, sister, daughter, or friend attends the march”. In London by Care-International another march is organized on Women’s day in which stars from stage and screen marching shoulder-to-shoulder with grassroots campaigners for gender equality and climate justice”. In recent years McDonald’s was accused of “McFeminism”, when it turned the company’s logo of golden arches upside down to form the letter W to represent Women, while the beer brewing company Brewdog was accused of cynical marketing after releasing a pink colored beer around International Women’s Day, supposedly to raise awareness about gender pay inequality and sexist advertising. If brands are to jump on the springboard then they should also open their extensive wallets said Katie Russell of Rape crisis, England and Wales a network of independent Rape Crisis Centre, who is on a fire walk before International Women’s Day to raise funds for Support after rape and sexual violence Leeds.
International Women’s Day started with a movement of working class women in New York City who marched through New York in 1908 demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights, with the first National Women’s Day held on February 28 1909. Each year has a theme and this year’s theme is #EachforEqual, realizing equality with participants encouraged to actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements”. This year marks 10 years since the establishment of United Nations Women, and the 20th anniversary of the UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.