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International Women's Day - a cultural perspective

8th March 2009 was a memorable day for me. On that day, I heard for the first time that the International Women’s Day was there to celebrate women’s rights. I was very surprised. Up until this point I was convinced that this day’s sole purpose was to praise femininity and women's beauty.

A childhood picture I associate with this day is the one of my father bringing two bouquets of flowers: one for my mother, one for me. My mother received the biggest one: she was the most important woman of the family. I got a few branches of bright mimosas. As a future woman, I was celebrated too.

Flowers are an important element of this celebration in Russia. They are carried in bunches to wives and girlfriends, female workplace colleagues, school teachers and university students. They are even distributed at the tube station entrances.

According to the statistics, 47 % of Russian women expect to receive flowers on this occasion, 50% of men are planning to buy flowers for their loved ones.

I know many Russian women who ‘trained’ their foreign boyfriends and husbands to buy flowers on the 8th of March :) Cultural narratives do not change easily.

On this day, it is important to celebrate women’s achievements and equal rights. But I also think being a woman is worth a celebration on its own.

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