Last week, Viet Nam News asked its readers about the celebration of March 8, or International Women's Day in Viet Nam as well as in their countries. Readers were welcomed to share their thoughts about the day and the way people treated women. Here are some of the readers' comments:
Vanessa Pham, French-Vietnamese, Ha Noi
I am a half French and half Vietnamese woman living in Ha Noi for almost five years now. International Women Day is celebrated in France but I guess French women don't make such a big deal about it compared to Vietnamese women.
I mean, gender discrimination still exists in many European countries (same job for a lower salary, difficulty getting big promotions in a company, hiding the fact that you are pregnant for fear of getting fired, etc…). Although those inequalities are truly infuriating as we now live in the 21th century, after witnessing the situation of women in Viet Nam, dare I say? European women have it pretty nicely compared to Vietnamese women!
Not only is it the ‘'job'' of Vietnamese women to take care of their family and pretty much everything involved in making their house a home, but they also work very hard during the day and sometimes even work several jobs in order to provide for the needs of their family. I have always considered Vietnamese women as superheroes. They certainly do sacrifice way more than their male counterparts.
As for myself, I do not feel offended when my husband offers me flowers or takes me out to dinner on that day. However, what offends me, if I may say, are all those Vietnamese articles, statuses and other pictures posted on social media. You can see men doing house chores with a big smile on their face like "Dude, I'm doing the dishes once a freaking year so you better make sure to take a picture and post it on Facebook!'' It really gets under my skin!
I am longing for the day when the world won't need an International Women Day anymore, simply because it would mean that all inequalities between genders have completely vanished; that women are simply equal to men both in the workplace and at home; and that the world won't need a day to remind people of those inequalities.
Liv Ferrari, British, Ha Noi
I think that International Women's Day is supposed to be about women's rights, empowerment and the fight for gender equality. I would much rather people took the time to watch a documentary about the topic or read a feminist article.
Buying a woman flowers on International Women's Day is a fairly patronising thing to do in my opinion! Seeing shops and businesses promoting the sale of ‘girly' products (all pink of course) actually made me angry. How dare the one day where women's voices are meant to be heard, be turned into a way to make money by men who think that pink is what women actually want! Men and society don't actually listen to what women want.
Vu Cam Giang, Vietnamese, Ha Noi
There is nothing wrong to have days like Women's Day, Valentine's Day or Mother's Day... All of us know these days give us an opportunity to say "thank you" once again to each other, although some may say they already do that everyday.
In a place like Viet Nam, where many women are still ill-treated by men, the day becomes more important.
What's more, if a woman is confident that she is equal to men, then having a Women's Day can't make her feel less equal.
To be honest, it would not bother me at all if my husband or a friend buys me some flowers, but only as long as they do it from their hearts - I would be very happy. There is nothing wrong with the way enterprises take the opportunity to sell their goods - I would be surprised if they didn't.
I also wish there was a Men's Day too.
Ta Quynh Hoa, Vietnamese, Ha Noi
I'm a Vietnamese woman, who is against the holiday, not because I don't have a partner or I am mistreated on that day, but because of the way people misinterpret its meaning.
It was so lame to see Facebook flooded with pictures and posts showing off presents and flowers.
I was made even more angry by the fact that not a single Vietnamese newspaper reported on the real meaning of the day and instead on all the things that people are using to fool each other.
I was brought up with the knowledge that International (Vietnamese) Women's Day is a day that men must do, buy or say things to express their gratitude to and honor their mothers, wives and girlfriends. So ridiculous!
Andrew Burden, Canadian, Ha Noi
Canada, where I come from, is so developed that females have multitudes of options & opportunities. We mostly celebrate Mother's Day and Valentine's Day, and skipping Women's Day.
It seems each calendar day is a special day and to celebrate, you are encouraged to shop and buy. There are few inter-generational families who live together anym ore or eat dinner together that even living room ‘TV dinners' have been replaced with other gadgets.
Females need nurturing and protection. Men will still settle arguments with fists, or the implied force that brute strength may be applied. Women need supportive environments in education and in daily public travel.
I almost failed high school math because I was too embarrassed to ask for help or appear dumb in front of girls. There were no sex education classes. Viet Nam could adopt modern education practices and separate classes by gender at puberty for a year or two, perhaps alternating years at secondary level. Both young men (future gentlemen) and young women (future ladies) could develop without added, gendered stress.
Apart from promoting education about women's topics that men can never experience such as pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause, the world needs to protect women from being victims of rape in war and internal displacement.
The topics are almost endless. At the same time, please don't forget about boys. They need help, nurturing and guidance also.
M.A Kashem, Bangladesh
Human rights are women's rights. It is interesting to see how Vietnamese celebrate international women's day! In Viet Nam, women are treated wonderfully.
In Bangladesh, we observe this day by holding various workshops to create awareness among the masses about women's rights.
In the morning, one can see processions on the street with participants carrying placards, festoons and banners with different messages related to women's rights.
At the government level, various programs are organized to mark the day. Meetings and seminars are also organized to discuss issues related to women's rights. However, people usually do not treat women nicely, like Vietnamese do on this day. We celebrate this day every year to establish women's rights and ensure gender equality, but women are still neglected almost everywhere in the world.
Women do not expect favor but, rather, fair treatment. This should be the goal of international women's day celebrations everywhere. — VNS