All over the world, March 8th is the day in which women unite and demonstrate for equality in the workplace, on the street and at home. It is also a day to celebrate the achievements of women globally, in the realms of politics, culture, entertainment and in society as a whole. So, let’s take a look at how women in Asia will be spending their day.
Although the marches and rallies that have generated headline for Women’s Day largely take place in Europe, Chinese women will be given half the day off work. Many companies also implement a gift-giving ceremony, where they present female employees with a multitude of gifts. Sounds great, right? On the other hand, many Chinese students are holding sit-ins to protest against various legislative changes that have been proposed. Unfortunately, due to the political nature of many of these demonstrations, they have quickly been removed from state and private media in the country.
Whilst the Indonesian archipelago actually celebrates IWD on the 21st of March, they also participate in the global celebration. Singers from around the islands have created songs that they hope will be sung together in public places on March 8th. There are also presentations celebrating the education of women, equality in the workplace and women’s rights. The majority of Indonesian women are largely employed in what the UN has classed as ‘vulnerable work’. This means unregulated, domestic employment, which can leave many without employee benefits and equality in the workplace. However, the region has and will pass more laws which protect these workers and offer them some rights in their jobs.
Interestingly, Filipino women have joined forces to protest en masse against the country’s leader, Rodrigo Duarte. The protest was based in one of Manila’s main squares and focused mainly on the suffering caused to women, due to the implementation of tough drug laws in the area. Roses were given to the female relatives and associates of those killed under the regime’s policies and women were particularly vocal in expressing their disgust at their president.
Typically, South Korea has had a major disparity between the salaries of male workers and female workers, in the same job. This has been a sticking point for many years and this year, a demonstration will be held in Seoul. The movement against sexual abuse towards women and misogyny will also take center stage on March 8th, provoking a general call to arms for the rights of women.
Japan currently rates quite low on the scale of equality in the workplace. Women are vastly under-represented in parliament and there are few female lawmakers. However, there are several important events taking place to push for change. The British Chamber of Commerce in Japan is holding a #PledgeforParity event, hosting discussions and presentations from key speakers about the status of women today, in Japan and around the world.
Hong Kong is also taking centre stage in Asia this year, with a number of planned rallies and strikes about working conditions for women. Many women working in the domestic sector are calling for serious change, asking for higher salaries, more regulation on working conditions and better treatment from employers. Many of the protestors are migrant women, who have historically suffered poor treatment in their employment.
Singapore is holding a number of different events to celebrate March 8th, including several presentations on the status of women today. The Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations will be hosting a talk about the challenges and opportunities facing women today. There are also discussions relating to the gender imbalance in the technological and scientific industries, entitled #PressforProgress.This is reflected by the #PledgeforProgress movement, which addresses inequality throughout a variety of different sectors.