Female empowerment in gift form
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Female empowerment in gift form

I have been told that March 8 was International Women's Day. It’s a relatively new one to me, but I applaud the efforts people are making to celebrate the hardworking women in our lives.

I was particularly impressed by the stories I heard of Chinese companies celebrating their female employees by giving them half a day off work.

But as someone who usually puts a lot of thought into presents — thanks to years of training by Tai Tai — I did a quick poll of my friends and ex-colleagues to see what other gifts would be appropriate for Women’s Day.  

Many of their reported gifts were thoughtful: flowers, coupons for health check-ups and the old favourite, red packets.

Other gifts were literally sweet. Cakes and chocolates are always a safe bet after all.

Some companies have been getting a bit more creative. One gave out DNA tests, while another — fresh from completing its IPO this year — let employees pick from a pool of presents that ranged from snacks and umbrellas to electric toothbrushes and coffee machines.

There were some possibly misguided gifts as well. One Chinese clothing company apparently gave its employees yellow socks that weren't selling well. I suppose that's one way to get rid of inventory! Other questionable gifts included bottles of laundry detergent, booklets about child rearing, and feminine hygiene products.

I'd suggest the companies responsible for these latter presents rethink how professional women would like to be recognised. I'd hazard a guess it's not for their laundry skills.

I may occasionally grumble to Tai Tai that we men deserve a day of recognition and gifts as well but, let's be honest, it has been international men's day every day for many years. To the women who have put up with me, and what can be a brutally patriarchal industry, I say thank you. And happy International Women's Day!

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