What is wrong in accepting a 40 per cent off from a salon that is hell-bent to celebrate the significant occasion of international women’s day? Or from a restaurant which is more than eager to sponsor half of your dinner cost because you deserve it? On the surface, there is nothing wrong. Women should not be told what to do and what not. So if women want to savour freebies — be it from the HR department, or from a tea shop — they are welcome to go ahead. But not without reading the fine print. Also Read - International Women's Day 2020: Tony Kakkar’s Powerful Song ‘Tum Jaisi Ho’ is a Tribute to All Women Out There

There is nothing called a free lunch in this world. International Women’s Day is not about a hashtag, not about a hamper containing cosmetics which society thinks you must use to accentuate your beauty (inner beauty, of course!). It’s about equal rights, respect, freedom from fears — fears of being assaulted at a dimly lit alley, fear of being laughed at by police once you visit a police station to report the incident, fear of being moral-policed by people whom you narrate the incident later. Also Read - International Women’s Day 2020: Know This Year’s Theme, Importance And Significance

Of course, a salon or a restaurant or a lingerie brand are not supposed to ensure everything mentioned above. They just want you to feel good on this special occasion while they can do some business. Tell them that you don’t feel good when you come to know that female labour force participation in India has declined from 34 per cent in 2006 to 24.8 per cent in 2020. Tell them that you don’t feel good when you see celebrated women in sports, showbiz, business complaining that they don’t get the same salary as their male counterparts. Also Read - Ahead of International Women's Day, Google India Launches Skill Programme For Women in Corporate

Gift vouchers, discounts on International Women’s Day are like sops political parties offer ahead of elections. They know they are not going to fulfil their poll promises anyway; so it’s better to keep the voters engaged with some instant gratification. Don’t act like a foolish voter. It’s 2020.

(The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of India.com)