The 8th of March marks an important day for women. This weekend International Women’s Day will be celebrated globally in over 100 countries. For some it’s a public holiday. For others it may be a day of protest. But for all of us it’s a time to rejoice in the many achievements of women, be they social, economic, cultural or political. And given this year’s theme - An Equal World is an Enabled World – it’s a time for women, and men, to continue the gender parity conversation.
Recent statistics from the World Economic Forum’s latest Global Gender Gap report show that Australia placed 44 out of the 153 countries polled. And yes, you read that correctly. 44! The top ten unsurprisingly featured at least 4 Nordic cohorts, with Iceland taking pole position, as well as New Zealand (we love you Jacinda), Germany, Spain and Ireland ranking highly. What was a surprise was the placing of Nicaragua at number 5 and Rwanda at 9. And just to clarify one more time, Australia came 44th.
There is obviously plenty more work to be done not just globally but on a national level. Gender inequality is perpetuated by both formal and informal systems, structures and of course, attitudes. For gender parity, change has to take place not just from a political and legal perspective but also within the cultural and behavioural environment in which we live. Often men (and even some women) are scared off by the term ‘feminism’…they see it as a dirty word or an anti-men movement. But as Gloria Steinem so eloquently put it “A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.”
Who wouldn’t be happy with that?
Well thankfully more and more people are happy with that and we can applaud our progress thus far. The times they are a-changin’. With initiatives such as Me Too, LeanIn and the UN endorsed HeforShe, the women’s movement has seen a fundamental shift and more women have found their voices. As each year passes since the inaugural International Women’s Day over 100 years ago, an equal world is becoming more achievable than ever before.
So this weekend let’s reflect on our successes and celebrate one another no matter what we do, where we come from, or what we look like. And whilst the focus may be on the many remarkable women who have changed the face of politics, fought for social justice, or contributed to the literary world, let’s remember we are all remarkable, whether we’re managing a multinational corporation or our family budget. We must cast our nets wide and be each other’s champions.
Someone once said that behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women who have her back! This sense of sisterhood lies at the very heart of International Women’s Day and there are so many ways we can join in on the conversation.
So what can you do?
You could share your story, encourage gender equality in the workplace, advocate for women’s rights, donate to a women’s cause, volunteer for a women’s refuge, or support local businesses run by women. You might attend a local women’s event or networking session, learn about some inspiring women in history or read a feminist book. It’s all about women supporting women. Empowered women empower women! Spend time with your mum, aunt, daughter, girlfriend. Spend time with some of the men in your life and celebrate equality. After all, as much as we need to raise stronger women, we need to raise enlightened men.
You don’t have to think big. It’s often the little things that matter the most. Hang out with your favourite female or simply spend some time with your remarkable self. Cut yourself and the women around you some slack and appreciate each other’s greatness.
And most important of all, don’t just wait around for the 8th of March each year to support one other. ‘An equal world is definitely an enabled world’ but whilst we work hard every day on the equality with men part, let’s at least be equal with each other as women.
Happy International Women’s Day ladies!
Be well x
Written by Sam Yetzes