The neologism ‘unbirthday’ was coined by Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking Glass. Given its logic, I think it is fair to argue that every day not focused on women’s issues is a day on which women are implicitly not acknowledged. Instead, every such day women’s matters are generally in the background. With International Women’s Day celebrated in 1910 for the first time, 8 March 2018 is the 108th time the world will observe this day. Yet we forget about the 108 years of 364 unwomen’s days.

The argument may be simplistic as we simply need to look at the Olympics to see male and female athletes celebrated at the same time. Note, it is not the celebrations I take issue with. My concern is with the fact that such a day exists at all. The necessity to highlight women’s victories and struggles mean there is a limited edition of one day only per year where these receive global attention. There are marches and speeches that honour and commemorate women. And this is all lovely. By continuing to observe this day year after year implies gender equality has still not matured and the value of women still needs emphasising. Hence, women’s advancement has not achieved its goals yet. Instead, the status quo remains unwomen – or rather, nonwomen.

You wish to dismiss this argument by countering it with the existence of International Men’s Day? Conceived of in the early 1990s it has as yet to become truly international given it is celebrated in less than a hundred countries in the world and has needed reviving less than ten years after its inception. The argument that one women’s day is countered by one men’s day, leaving all remaining days of the year less these two as neutral or simply human days, does not hold. It does not hold because male opinions, decisions and endeavours continue to dominate the world, making most days male days. Celebrating women’s day emphasises the need to force people to stand still and consider the non-male species.

While we continue to celebrate International Women’s Day, I see the advancement of access to information as the vehicle that will render obsolete this tiny day.