What March 8 says about the perception of women in the Balkans 

Discounted hair dryers, cheap perfumes and "women only" dinners are still the most common way to mark International Women's Day in the Balkans, and this says a lot about the status of women in the area. 

Lidija Pisker
Lidija Pisker NewsMavens, Balkans
Source: Bljesak
What March 8 says about the perception of women in the Balkans  - NewsMavens
Roses. Wikicommons

Why this story matters:

Balkan countries are often confused by the women's rights movement and what it means for female empowerment around the world. This is especially evident when looking at how March 8 is celebrated here.

During communist times, this was a day when female workers were given red roses and invited to dancing parties as a "thank you" from the state. The tradition didn't end with the fall of the regime, but with capitalism, it mutated into a commercialized celebration completely disconnected from its feminist roots. 

For example, this year a Bosnian shopping mall is having a hair dryer give-away. A Croatian National Park is organizing a "women's night out" with live music, tombola and a special dinner to celebrate social, economic, cultural and political achievements -- no less! -- of women.

On March 8 -- and not only -- women in the Balkans are called "members of more beautiful sex" and "members of more delicate sex," degrading expressions that go hand in hand with Women's Day discounts for beauty products and spa treatments.

Meanwhile, women around the world go on strike and march to defend their rights.

There's nothing wrong with expressing affection to a sister, partner or mother with a girly gift. But March 8 needs to be more than this. 

A few quotes from a Women's Day celebration at the Mepa mall in Mostar, BiH

  • "With their warmth and gentleness, women bring harmony and peace where we need it most."
  • "More than ever, we need to show women how much their support, gentle looks and tender embrace means to us. Do not forget to celebrate March 8 with your mothers, sisters, and girlfriends."
  • "Enter your personal information and win a high-end Philips hair dryer or a Lume Prestige hair removal device, which will delight every woman."
  • "We are sure that these devices will delight your mothers, friends, girlfriends and sisters, so hurry up and participate in our contest to win valuable prizes that will surely bring you the smile of a beloved woman."
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