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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Collins

Women’s Day in China fails to make women feel powerful

Updated: Jun 4, 2019

Women’s Day was first created to celebrate the political, economic, and social achievement of women. At least that was the initial purpose, but nowadays its meaning has mostly switched from a tribute to women’s achievements to a day where brands take a chance to grab some extra sales.

In China, the government designated March 8 as a national holiday for women and a lot of companies reward their female workers with a half day off. While some take the day to rest, it is common to see stores full of women enjoying their time off to shop, considering there are a bunch of special sales.

Tmall and Tmall global are also using the day as a way to leverage sales: starting from March 3 and ending on March 8, different brands from lingerie to jewelry are doing “Queen’s Day” discounts, as you can see on the e-commerce’s website homepage.

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is “Pledge For Parity” and it’s all about women’s fight for equality, but brands failed to create marketing messages around the subject. For example, Nike has created impactful campaigns to show women power in the past, but this year is just giving away a gift bag for those who buy specific products from a “Women’s Day” list.

Other brands, like H&M, just input a “Happy Women’s Day” message on their website and offer discounts. From March 2 to March 7 tops, accessories and shoes have 30% off and on March 8 lingerie and nightwear have 30% off.

Just like other holidays, such as Valentine’s day and Mother’s Day, Women’s Day is slowly losing it’s meaning as brands take over to promote themselves and attract more customers. Don’t get me wrong, I love discounts, but shouldn’t it be about something else? A woman’s power and equality instead of one big hollow show?

Even the All China Women’s Federation, created by the Communist Party in 1949 to “protect women’s rights and interests”, was not able to create a serious agenda for International Women’s Day. On March 7, in the midst of China’s annual legislative session in Beijing, the group had a reception at the Great Hall of People.

As (mostly male) powerful figures head to the China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) on the west side of Tiananmen Square, on the other side hundreds of Chinese woman and invited foreign guests gathered at the Grand Ballroom for an one-hour session to mark the International Women’s Day.

It was the perfect opportunity to engage a serious debate about the fight for women’s rights in China. Instead, the event featured a fashion show, an acrobatic number called “Spring Flowers”, a performance from a male opera singer, and two group dance numbers entitled “Paper-Cutting Girls” and “The Valentine’s Day for Tujia Girls” with performers dancing with red umbrellas.

I was indeed disappointed as I thought I would find more than “buy one, get one free” from brands on this day in China. The show that brands created to make women feel “special and beautiful” might get them a few extra sales, but it doesn’t appeal to all the amazing women out there, so they better step up their game!

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