Happy International Women’s Day. I can’t recall when I first started attending International Women’s Day events. It was many years ago – though now I have little recollection of such events. I well remember one at the Caboolture Historical Village a few years ago, but there are two that I remember in great detail.
In 2008, I went to China to teach at a university in Shaoxing. When I think about it now, it was a very brave thing to do, to go off on my own to such a foreign country. As it turned out, I enjoyed most of the time I was there. I recall the first International Women’s Day event – which was held just a couple of weeks after I arrived in China. The foreign teachers (female) received rather exotic invitations to International Women’s Day event. Details were a little vague. We were told that we were going to a “Match Factory”.
As it turned out, it was a “Matress Factory” – a rather exotic place on the way to Keqiao. After a visit to a government facility where we learned about the many sister cities associated with Shaoxing, we bussed it to the factory. We were initially shown around the factory – they made quality mattresses for high-end hotels around the world and had several hotel rooms set up for us to visit.
Then we went into the function room where there were a number of speeches (yes, there was an English translator), and performances of Chinese culture – dancing, singing etc.
Then it was an amazing lunch!!
Two years later, I was back in China and this event was at a local high-end hotel. Entertainment and wonderful lunch.
I recall another IWD event where I spoke about Qui Jin, regarded as one of China’s most famous feminists.
The Chinese celebrate International Women’s Day with much gusto – though clearly, the women in China do not have even the level of equality that we do in Australia. It is worth reading a book by Mei Fong, about the Chinese One Child Policy and the horrific treatment of women during that period.
And so it was that I attended a function on IWD – but part of a program of Queensland Women’s Week on Bribie Island, at the Bribie RSL. It was quite an impressive event – with a couple of guest speakers and great food – High Tea. Little sandwiches and a great array of sweet treats, cakes, scones, buns, tarts etc.
The highlight speaker was a lady who is principal of a school on the island, and she explained how it has gone from a school with poor attendance and poor results to one of the top schools in the state. She was funny and informative and clearly very proud of her students and their amazing successes.
Funny though how there is also a wide range of attitudes to IWD. Some women are not fans of it – in fact some find it embarrassing. The ABC Radio Brisbane only had women presenters all day, and there was publicity about signs at pedestrian crossings with women walking characters. There was much to talk about. I like to instigate discussion on issues and not everyone agrees. I am surprised that so many women don’t see how things have changed for them since the regular high profile IWD events. Women who have not been in the corporate world and who are happily married seem to be less inclined to support the event.
The men say, “What about International Men’s Day?” It does exist, but there is little celebration about it. I wonder if there will be this year?