Updated: Mar 23, 2020
This year the theme is to create a gender equal world through ‘collective individualism’. How can we all be a part of making the world #EachforEqual across all different areas of life?
International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women - whilst also marking a call to action for accelerating gender equality. International Women's Day first emerged from the activities of labour movements at the turn of the twentieth century in North America and across Europe.
Since those early years, International Women's Day has assumed a new global dimension for women in developed and developing countries alike. The growing international women's movement has helped make the commemoration a rallying point to build support for women's rights and participation in the political and economic arenas.
Let’s face it, men still run the world. They have been in charge ad infinitum and to lose that dominance is a bit scary for them. There is a Darwinian drive for men to provide, since we lived in caves, when they would go out and club a sabre-toothed tiger for dinner for the wife and kids at home. And this breadwinner role has evolved into the boardroom in modern day society. But (most) women don’t need to be looked after any more.
We have long been described as the weaker sex and more latterly the fairer sex, and shaking off the connotations that go with these monikers is harder than it should be. Asserting our equality is more than a century-old project and still going: in the Fortune 500 last year only 6.6% of CEOs were women, (1) and the UK gender pay gap was still at sitting at over 17%.(2) We are still doing more unpaid work such as childcare and housework - almost double the number of hours per day than men, at more than four compared to their two hours 20 minutes.(1) And that’s with 71.4% of women holding down paid jobs at the same time.(3)
So how do we change this? International Women’s Day is a huge part of this: they organise events all over the world to help to galvanise change and drive people to action. We can all play a small but significant role each and every day by challenging social conventions, gender stereotypes and calling out inequality. Remember the song “99 Problems…” well actually, “bitch” is one. We should stop accepting the double standard set for us by men.
Often, if a woman is assertive, she is called on it, but in the same situation a man can be seen as dynamic and powerful. If a woman gets angry, her hormones are called into question (eye-roll here), but if a man is angry, he is just ‘passionate’ about something. I’m sure we’ve all seen this behaviour and dismissed it as the norm. But it is actually just the tip of the iceberg. So can we deem this norm unacceptable and each find a small way to make a change in our day-to-day that will have a larger, longer term impact?
Maybe we could talk less about ‘girls’ toys’ and ‘boys’ toys’ or gender colour coding. Or keep encouraging our daughters to play rugby, or design a video game, or become a civil engineer. The first step is changing our own language and mindset. The glass ceiling should be shattered by the next generation. Women are proven, in many studies, to have a higher level of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) which makes them better team players. Most recently, studies have shown that negotiations to end international conflicts have a higher success rate if there are women involved.(4) Often our potential is squandered and if this is to change for the better we each have to take responsibility to help all women, no matter where they are from and which walk of life, achieve their potential.
IWD are running events all over the UK. Why not search their database to see how you can get involved https://www.internationalwomensday.com/EventSearch . If you can spare the time, try and make a little difference every day. #EachisEqual