China Elevator Stories

March 8, International Women’s Day

For International Women’s Day 2013, I get the morning off from work.


Ruth Silbermayr
Ruth Silbermayr


More than a 100 years ago, over a million people took to the streets in Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Denmark to celebrate the first International Women’s Day in Europe and to demonstrate for women’s rights at the same time.

Today, this holiday is almost forgotten in Austria. The same is the case with many other countries including the USA, the country where the movement that led to the creation of International Women’s Day originally started.

Not so in China. In celebration of International Women’s Day, all females in my company get the morning off on March 8. I decide to get a late breakfast at my favorite congee place in Shenzhen. Today is one of the rare events where I have time to sit down for breakfast. The woman selling the congee starts to chat with me.

She says: “You’re here with your bicycle.”
I reply: “Yes, the weather is really nice, so I decided to take the bike.”
“Did you get the day off today?”
“We got the morning off.”

She states: ” Today is International Women’s Day. I should also take the day off.”
She looks at her husband for approval and then goes on to say: “Many companies here in China give their female workers the day off on March 8. Would you also get the day off in Austria?”

I reply: “Unfortunately not, we don’t really celebrate International Women’s Day there.”

She then changes the topic and asks me about housing prices and the social security system in Austria. When I finish with my congee, I leave for the supermarket to buy some fresh vegetables and cook a home-made meal, which I don’t get to do that often lately.

In the afternoon, I get to work. Since I have to work only four hours today, time flies by really fast. My male co-workers were all busy coming up with ideas for presents they could give the female co-workers the last few days. Before I get off work today, I’m presented with the outcome of it: A notebook, a small wallet and condoms.

Although probably meant to be funny, I thought that condoms were a great idea for women’s day, kind of like celebrating women’s independence from merely being a housewife and mother and propagating safer sex at the same time.

Happy belated International Women’s Day!

Do you celebrate International Women’s Day in your home country?

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