International Women’s Day 2019 in Greece – Time for change?

Tomorrow, on the 8th of March, it is International Women’s Day. The day has a long history and has been observed for over a century. For example, in the United States, people marked the first National Women’s Day in 1909. Other countries have similar histories of activism around the end of February and the beginning of March. In 1975, the United Nations declared the 8th of March International Women’s Day. This year, the theme of the day is #BalanceforBetter – aiming to increase balance between genders.

Graphic for International Women's Day on the 8th of March

Gender equality in Greece

Every few years, the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) researches the state of gender equality in the European Union. They then release a gender equality index, ranking countries on a scale from 1-100 on six different areas. These areas are power, workplace, money, knowledge, time and health.

In the last edition, from 2015, Greece scored 50 points, 16 points below the EU-28 average. They ranked last within the EU. It especially scored low in terms of power, which looks at women in decision-making positions. Greece scored only 21.7 points, less than half of the European average of 48.5. As Greece is also still dealing with a lot of refugees, there are many women in the country in vulnerable positions, especially in refugee camps.

The logo of the EIGE Gender Equality Index
The logo of the EIGE Gender Equality Index

It is clear that there is room for improvement for women in Greece. But despite that, until now, International Women’s Day has not played a significant role. Companies often use the day as an opportunity to sell particular items to women, such as beauty products. Men also use the day to ‘celebrate’ the women in their lives: their mothers, their daughters, their partners. But while this ‘celebration’ is going on, women are still experiencing many issues because of their position in society. Some women in Greece are now calling for a change, and several movements are organising protests this week to shift the focus of the day.

Activist movement in Europe and worldwide

In some countries around Europe, feminist movements are organizing, sinc a few years ago, a general strike for the 8th March. The demonstrations are mostly organized around the movement “Ni una menos”. The movement was born in Argentina in 2015, after a wave of violence against women that culminated with the murder of a 16 years old girl. That was the last straw, and women started go to the streets and protest. In the past years, the movement spread around the world, being particularly active in Spain, Italy, Brazil and other South American countries.

Women protesting under Ni Una Menos

The main idea of the movement is that violence against women is just the top of the iceberg. So the aim should be to eradicate machist and patriarchal behaviour in society, which are often taken for granted. The struggle for a more equal society includes not only women. Instead, it addresses every kind of inequality, discrimination, and injustice, linked to gender, race, and condition. This year as well, 8th March General Strike will be a day of struggle. Protesters highlight the role of the women and different minorities in society and focus on improving their situations.

The claim for this year’s strike is as follows: “On March 8, on every continent, there will be a feminist strike. We will interrupt every work activity outside and inside the home, formal or informal, free or paid, to block all areas in which, every day, economic, psychological and physical violence is directed against women, lesbian, gay, trans and non-binary and racialized people.”

Article by Arianna Salan and Sacha Bogaers

Events in Thessaloniki and Athens

To contribute to shifting the focus of International Women’s Day, we have collected some events that will take place on and around International Women’s Day this year (in Thessaloniki and Athens). Of course, many of them are in Greek (we are in Greece, after all ;)). Still, if you don’t speak Greek, you can at least join the demonstrations that are planned!

Thessaloniki

Strike: 13:30 at Statue of Venizelos

“This year’s World Women’s Day, on March 8th, is finally gaining new features in Greece and abroad. This day has always been a matter of the labor movement, since this “celebration” emerged in the early 20th century. But it is not a ‘celebration’!”

The organisers of this event highlight Greece’s low score on the gender equality index, and call for a protest. It will take place at 13:30 at the Statue of Venizelos at Aristotelous Square.

Find the event here!

Strike: 18:30 at Statue of Venizelos

“For the first time this year, taking last year’s example from women in Spain, we are striking and protesting in Greece on 8 March, along with women who are pursuing the same in different European cities.”

Find the event here!

‘Women in the struggle for equal rights’

“Women’s oppression and sexism and the forms of resistance that are being developed will be the theme of the event organized by Fighting & Free on Thursday March 7 at 19:00 at TAKIM.”

Find the event here!

Scientific conference: Women, sports and Society

“The Panhellenic Association for the Promotion of Women in Sports and Sports (PPEGAS), in cooperation with the Municipality of Thessaloniki, under the aegis of the Region of Central Macedonia, organizes a scientific conference on “Women, Sports and Society” on Friday, March 8, 2019 at 18.00 at the M. Anagnostakis Hall of the New Town Hall of Thessaloniki.”

Find the event here!

Women’s week Workshops at to biscotti Thessaloniki

“To Biscotti celebrate International Women’s Day! It dedicates five nights to the women of Thessaloniki, organising workshops with interesting themes, and has invited specialists who stand out in their work.”

On the 8th of March, they are organising a workshop on the role and image of women in the arts and media.

Find the event here!

Athens

Strike in home and work!

“On March 8, we go down the road to protest and strike along with our colleagues, neighbors, fellow students and classmates. We go down the road giving this fight united and collectively. So that none of us ever need to take up the burden of oppression alone!”

Find the event here!

Free the Feminine! – Global Sisterhood

“On March 8, learn about the Free Feminine Initiative and take part in the Global Sisterhood Women Circle in Athens, joining its energy with all the circles of Global Sisterhood on the same day for release, healing, rebirth. Together!”

Find the event here!

Event “Women and Trade Union”

“The General Confederation of Professional Craft Traders in Greece and the Institute of Small Enterprises of GSEVEE celebrate Women’s Day by organizing the event “Women and Trade Union”.”

Find the event here!

Post Author: Sacha Bogaers

Sacha Bogaers
I am 23 years old and moved from Sweden to Greece for ten months. My main interests are human rights, activism, and art. I also love writing about LGBTQ+-related topics and social justice.

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