WHO RUN THE WORLD?!
Celebrating International Women's Day 2020
What is International Women’s Day?
Held annually on 8 March, International Women’s Day is a day dedicated to celebrating – you guessed it – women! Celebrated globally, IWD promotes gender equality, inclusivity, diversity, awareness and advocacy. With its beginnings over a century ago, IWD unites women’s allies and encourages change. This year’s theme, Each for Equal, is a global campaign fighting for equal representation of women in the workforce, the government, the media and more generally across society.
Why do we need International Women’s Day?
In recent decades, we have come a long way in bridging the gender gap. However, with growing rates of domestic abuse and violence against women, the substantial pay gap, economic disparity, continued lack of access to education, and an underrepresentation of women in leadership roles, there is still a long way to go in terms of achieving gender equality. For non-binary people, trans women, women of colour, women of different abilities, sex workers, and other underrepresented groups outside of the ‘straight, white female’ category, this disparity can be far greater. By shining a light on gender inequality on an international scale, IWD promotes solidarity and change so that we can all work towards an equal future.
International Men’s Day?
Before I continue, there is one question asked every IWD that I can’t ignore. As much as I don’t want to give it the attention it does not deserve, there is always some dunce who poses the question, “why is there no international men’s day” (or something along those lines).
First thing’s first – apart from the fact that essentially every day is international men’s day (sorry not sorry) a dedicated International Men’s Day does exist. It is on 19 November.
How can I be an ally?
There are many ways to celebrate IWD and display camaraderie with your female friends – attend a rally, gas up your gal pals, promote women in business, the list goes on. Support women’s creative endeavours by buying their books, consuming their art, and attending their shows. There are many ways we can promote women, not just on IWD, but every day.
Women supporting women
It is simple – lift other women up. As much as we would all like to burn our bras and deliver awe-inspiring speeches on the world stage, supporting women is as simple as congratulating a colleague on a promotion or celebrating your friend’s successes. You know the phrase, think global act local? If we, as women, work together to build each other up, not only will we be more likely to achieve our personal goals, we will slowly dismantle broader social and occupational inequalities.
Call out your mates
This is a big one. One of the easiest ways to support women and create societal change is to call out your mates and their shitty behaviour. Yeah, I’m talking to the men in the room.
In the wake of #MeToo, Weinstein and an immeasurable number of other unreported sexual assaults against women, standing up against rape culture has never been so crucial. Rape culture embodies behaviour that normalises and excuses sexual violence against women. This includes harassment, misogynistic language and objectification of women’s bodies – conduct that doesn’t necessarily amount to rape.
Every woman, and I quite literally mean every woman, has a horror story about leaving the house and being harassed, groped or ridiculed by some guy (typically in a pair of Vans and muscle T). Usually, this dude is surrounded by a group of on-lookers who stare sheepishly at their feet while their mate peacocks around the room, sleazing on and mocking women at the bar. This behaviour is then laughed off and dismissed, as they were simply being ‘one of the boys’.
Do not be an on-looker. Learn to question and call out sexist behaviour, especially if it is making a woman feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Speaking to (and about) women in a respectful way will encourage your friends to do the same.
Body confidence & sexual empowerment
As women, we should celebrate what makes us unique, and one of those things are our bodies. Body confidence and sexual empowerment is one of the ways we can fight against oppression and objectification, and is a way of representing ourselves to the outside world.
Since the advent of 50 Shades, the idea that women have sexual fantasies has become more commonplace in mainstream society. Nonetheless, sexual inequality remains a current problem for women in heterosexual relationships. Sexist attitudes towards sex remain prevalent, as people still consider men to like sex more than women. This can create unhealthy issues in sexual relationships, as women are (sometimes subconsciously) considered to be the party withholding sex that their partner should otherwise be “entitled” to.
By talking openly about women’s sexual desires and owning our own sexuality, we can continue to bridge the gap of sexual inequality. After all, sex should be a mutually pleasurable experience, rather than something endured “for” the sake of someone else.
However you choose to celebrate, IWD is significant in marking not only how far we have come in our fight for gender equality, but how far we have yet to go. It is important to reflect on and acknowledge the strides that we, as women, have achieved through solidarity and powerful leadership. With unrelenting determination for change, we can all work towards demolishing gender inequality globally. For more information about IWD and events in your city, visit https://www.internationalwomensday.com/.