March 8: a day of celebration, struggle or sorrow?

People took to the streets around the world on Sunday, International Women's Day, to demand equal rights for women in business, family and society. Some commentators emphasise the achievements of the movement so far, while others are disillusioned with the slow pace of progress.

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Delfi (LT) /

Women bear the burden of ageing society

Journalist and writer Audronė Urbonaitė shines a light in Delfi on the unequal distribution of the burden in home care:

“Some 7.7 million women in the EU are forced to give up their jobs due to their obligations to their family, their household and ageing family members. Meaning that there are more women in this unfortunate situation than there are people living in Denmark. ... On the other hand there are only 450,000 devoted men in the EU - fewer than tiny Luxembourg's population. ... Initially these women do their best to balance their care obligations with their jobs. But it soon becomes clear that this is not possible. They then switch to jobs with less responsibility, most likely temporary or part-time positions which don't guarantee stable incomes and have a negative impact on their pensions.”

Kurier (AT) /

This day must get on people's nerves

International Women's Day is not a public holiday but a day of struggle, Kurier argues:

“International Women's Day was created more than 100 years ago for a sad reason - the unequal treatment of men and women. Courageous women took to the streets and fought to finally be allowed to vote and thus have more say in society. ... Ever since then, a revolutionary spirit has prevailed on this day of struggle in March. It reminds us of all that is still going wrong in terms of equal rights worldwide. It's an annual stocktaking of the situation regarding discrimination, violence against women, women's rights, pay equality and the compatibility of work and family life. These topics are timeless and have to get on people's nerves if they are not to be forgotten in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.” (RO) /

Equal opportunities remain a distant dream

Romanian journalist Andrea Ghiţă explains on why she doesn't feel like celebrating on March 8:

“Equal opportunities are far from being a reality, at least in Romania. Too few women are in management positions, and unemployment is much higher among women than among men. As long as thousands of women, tired and loaded down with bags, face a second (or third) shift of work cooking and sweeping; as long as they stand in front of mountains of dirty dishes or dirty laundry, next to their drunken, brutal and indifferent men; as long as the path of many young women to a job is via their employer's bed; as long as all this continues I won't like 8 March.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

Don't forget the achievements

The train of equal rights may be rolling slowly but it can't be stopped, writes the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:

“Of course there are too few women in the party leaderships and on the Dax [top German comanies] boards; too many women spend more time doing household chores than in the office, too much potential atrophies at the kitchen sink. ... But the disillusionment that is spreading among many women should not obscure the achievements: a young woman is leading the world climate movement with astonishing naturalness. Ursula von der Leyen is firmly in the saddle as the new EU Commission President. And even more important are the efforts on another level: companies that build up female leadership potential and send fathers on parental leave. And the zeitgeist is doing what it does best: exerting pressure offensively.”

The Guardian (GB) /

Women's rights are good for men

The fight for gender equality is in everyone's interest, The Guardian emphasises:

“There's now a stack of evidence that men benefit from living in more gender-equal societies and that policies promoting gender equality improve the quality of life of everyone, not just for women. A recent WHO report comparing 41 European countries found that men's health was poorer in more gender-unequal societies - the sexual division of labour harms men as well as women. ... Or perhaps more men need to join campaigns for gender equality - not only to signal that they're the good guys or because it's morally just, but also through enlightened self-interest.”