Last week was International Women’s Day. The very name is enough, for some men, to get their head raging and their tweeting fingers typing. ‘A day for women?! But when is International Men’s Day?’ they quip, hopelessly unaware of their male privilege (and also ignorant of the facts – it’s on the 19th November in case you were wondering).
But, aside from the fact that there is actually a parallel day for men, the more pertinent point is that they are questioning the need for a day for women – a day to celebrate the achievements of women the world over, and a day to campaign for so many still-unsolved women’s issues.
Why did millions of people mark a special day last week for women?
Even in 2016, hundreds of thousands of women and girls are at risk of FGM (female genital mutilation), women and girls are forced into unwanted marriages, and honor violence is rampant. And not just in what some may see as the ‘third world’, some far-away existence removed from their everyday lives. These issues – these affronts to the basic human rights of women – are happening right here in America and other countries.
Honor Diaries – a documentary film that highlights female activists tackling these issues, and that was launched two years ago on International Women’s Day 2014 – has released never-before-seen footage, and is calling on us to get men talking.
In the same way that the HeForShe campaign is based on the idea that gender equality is an issue that affects all people—socially, economically and politically—, men must also face up to the abuses against women taking place and highlighted in Honor Diaries.
And in the same way that HeForShe seeks to actively involve men in the gender equality movement (which has traditionally been dominated by women), the same must be done in the fight against FGM, honor violence and forced marriage. Only by engaging men, and ensuring that they don’t feel left out of the picture, can we tackle such important, and widespread, global issues.
Women have achieved so much on so many issues. Women are only half of the global population, and it is imperative that men get involved in the conversation, and join the brave women campaigning for change.
Cover Photo Credit: Arne Hoel/World Bank, Flickr Creative Commons