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Martina, Tina, Elena and Amina.
Martina, Tina, Elena and Amina. / SUR

One day - different views

  • International Women's Day is celebrated the world over but different countries see it in different ways; four Costa del Sol residents explain what 8 March means for them

Not everywhere in the world women will celebrate International Women's Day by demonstrating in the streets and calling for greater equality. In some countries the day has lost its political flavour. This Sunday on the Costa del Sol, where dozens of nationalities live side by side, it will be possible to meet women in different moods. Some women will receive flowers, others will put on unisex clothes or traditional purple t-shirts, others will wear smart dresses and high-heeled shoes. The opinions of female residents of the Costa del Sol show up that the significance as well as importance of International Women's Day are different.

Martina - Mijas Costa

Italian

In Italy International Women's Day stopped being a political event quite a long time ago, explains Martina, who is originally from Italy and now lives in Mijas Costa.

"Now it appears to be mainly an occasion for men to express their love and appreciation to women who are important to them, from wives and girlfriends to mistresses and just female friends. Every man does his best to be extra gentle and caring."

"A small token of men's love in Italy is usually a bunch of yellow mimosas: cheap but traditional," continues Martina. Actually, this tradition started after the Second World War in the Italian capital. It is known that in 1945 the Union of Italian Women declared 8 March as a day for celebrating womanhood across the country.

"Now I live between Fuengirola and Marbella where there are plenty of mimosa trees. Their blossoming yellow branches remind me of Italy with this men's custom. And actually I think that to show warm feelings to a person is possible any time and any day of the year. That's why St Valentine's Day and Women's Day are for me just a commercial and marketing initiative. Some of my female friends are even more extreme. For 8 March they prepare gifts for themselves - male strippers who please and serve them. Celebrating Women's Day by behaving as men is considered by them as gender parity," concludes Martina.

Tina - Benalmádena

Swedish

Originally from Sweden, Tina explains that for her 8 March has always been an extra reason to appeal to women's problems in modern society.

"Since the 70s I have always tried to raise concerns about women's rights. I know that for everybody Sweden is a synonym for 'gender equality'. But in my opinion, we are still on the way towards achieving total equality. Big income differences between men and women prove my doubts. For example, the fields where most women work still have low status and are lower paid. Unfortunately, the slogan 'Equal Pay - Empty Words' is still relevant in Scandinavia and the similar situation in Spain is even times worse."

Tina, who has lived in Spain for six years, says that she doesn't take part in demonstrations here because "I am still a 'guiri' who has no right to dictate my values to the locals".

"The last time when I went to a demonstration was seven years ago, just before moving to Spain. More than 700 women rolled out with strollers to the centre of Stockholm. It was the so-called Barnvagnsmarschen (Babystroller March), organised by Unite For Women. So we went towards the main square of Stockholm under the leading banner 'Stop Maternal Mortality'. Then we touched upon the topic of childbirth that is actually the most dangerous day in a woman's life. As for flowers, that day typical red roses were handed out, as usual," she said.

Elena - Fuengirola

Russian

To understand Women's Day in Russia it's necessary to look back at history. Elena, who now lives in Fuengirola, explains: "The October Revolution in 1917 immediately gave emancipation to women. Just over a hundred years ago the new Soviet government wanted to make women equal to men. For that purpose women had to participate in common productive labour that was supposed to bring enormous gains to working women. So in the Soviet Union the women were welcome to build the railway on the frozen grounds deep in Siberian forests. The women enthusiastically went to cultivate virgin lands of the deserted Kazakhstan. Even more, a woman was, after the first man, immediately sent to space.

"But with the collapse of Communism the women in Russia and other former USSR republics seemed to stop calling for full equality with men," said Elena. "My explanation is that women in Russia are just tired of being strong enough or just fed up with this 'equal' sex philosophy. For example, while the West in the 60s enjoyed stylish, sexy and very feminine outfits, we in the USSR were supposed to be grey and have a very 'puritanical' look. Probably that's why none of us wants that 'equality' now. And that's why most of my compatriots are eager to wear skimpy outfits and revealing dresses."

As for flowers on Women's Day, Elena says the most popular ones are tulips and daffodils, as well as yellow mimosas. "Russian women always expect some expensive gifts," she adds. "The most important thing for any woman is on this day to feel like a princess and be treated as a diva."

Amina - Fuengirola

Moroccan

When speaking about women in the world, people talk especially about Arab women, says Amina, who lives in Fuengirola.

"Stereotypically we are obedient or even submissive and quite far from being smart. First of all, I can assure you that indeed we are too smart as we know how to manipulate men. And just for that we need to seem to be weak. With our 'weakness' and 'silliness' we maintain men's self-esteem and to make them feel important is also our duty. And our 'efforts' are rewarded with gifts.

"Arab women are smart even in technology. I read that one in three start-ups in the Arab World is founded or led by women and that is a higher percentage than even in Silicon Valley. In my home-land, Morocco, many women are in power and lead companies. Despite many challenges, such as societal pressure on women to stay at home, female entrepreneurs are finding new and creative ways to overcome barriers. And we are quite successful with that.

"As for me, after moving to Spain I started my own business and opened a small restaurant Now I have a staff consisting only of men being really respectful to me as their boss."