Making ultimate sacrifice to celebrate Women's Day

Every March 8, International Women's Day, millions are spent on flowers and presents. This year it’s is particularly special for two women, Vika and Vika, who are celebrating the holiday for the very first time.

Two friends, two Vika’s, have gone through years of pain and humiliation to obtain, as they say, their true selves.

“I had to sacrifice a relationship with my family, my daughter, my job, to have my dream come true – to become a woman,” said Vika Elkina – previously known as Vladimir.

After the operation, most relatives and friends turned their back on her, except for an old friend, who also gave Vika her first bouquet of tulips on March 8.

“Those tulips were the most amazing gift I've ever received,” said Vika. “He was the one who had known me for years as a man, and who was not pushed away by my transition.”

Now the two Vika’s live together. One of them is an IT specialist, and the other is an electrician. And over a festive meal, just like all women, they talk of men and love.

“Men have become so busy, they often don't even bother to make small compliments, which can make the day for any woman,” said Vika Elkina. “They seem to care more about their football and hockey.”

Despite the fact that Russian men spend on average US$ 150 to show their appreciation to that special person, some remain deeply sceptical of the occasion.

“That's a stupid holiday. Full of clichés – those tulips and chocolates,” said one man.

Meanwhile, this light-hearted holiday of sweets and flowers has a revolutionary past.

Of American origin, it became widely celebrated in the Soviet Union after the revolution of 1917.

Back in the mid-19th century hundreds of women at a New York textile factory took to the streets to protest for their rights, and those events were not forgotten by socialists in the 20th century.

Although the two Vikas know little about the historic fight for women's rights that started the holiday, they do know a lot about their everyday fight to be women.

“It took a lot of pain and work,” said Vika Pudovkina. “We still have years of therapy ahead, but we're ready to take the road to be able to live a fulfilling woman's life.”

The toast at their table on this day is no different than at any other table – to love and to women.