International Women's Day
on Wednesday 8 March, closely followed on Sunday 10 March by Mother's Day. The former highlights the economic, political and social achievements of women; since its beginning in the socialist movement, International Women's Day has grown to become a global day of recognition and celebration via the auspices of the United Nations.
On the other hand, Mother's Day is a commercialised celebration of motherhood and, in England at least, is associated with Mothering Sunday, the fourth Sunday in Lent, when people traditionally visit their mother church. In contrast with International Women's Day, Mother's Day thus tends to reinforce gender stereotyping.
And this week we have seen 115 old men elect one of their number to be the spiritual leader of 1.2 billion Catholics, at least half of whom will be women. Gender issues do not seem to have played any part in the old men's deliberations, however. Funny old world.