Whilst I hold a strong and passionate flame for Halloween and Easter, my favourite day of all is always International Women’s Day. And, joy to all, this time it falls on a Friday. Queue women everywhere downing their drinks in unison and vowing to commit to sisterhood for life. That’s the dream, anyway. This year’s theme is #BalanceForBetter, and is a call-to-action for driving gender balance across the world. There are three focuses to the theme: ‘Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change’. So what does this mean, and how can we do this?
This campaign is designed to promote the importance of a balanced world being a better world. And, in this sense, a balanced world is one where rights are equal among all. There are umpteen opportunities and ways in which you can stand and fight for this, but this all starts with an understanding that in order for a balanced world to be achieved, we all have a role to play. We all need to contribute. Gender bias not only hurts women’s careers, but also holds women back globally in all aspects of our lives.
Celebrate women’s achievement.
Hillary Clinton made the presidential running two terms in a row. I don’t care if you don’t like her or not, it’s the first time a woman has ever got that far. Sandra Oh just became the first Asian woman in over 40 year to win a Golden Globe. Cardi B, a black female rapper, became the first female rapper to reach the Billboard Hot 100’s top 10 with all three off her chart entries. But these are just examples – think of everything else women achieve in their day-to-day lives that they aren’t praised for. We should be uplifting each other and empowering each other always, whether it’s for getting a promotion at work, running a half marathon or making it through wedding season without a hangover.
Raise awareness against bias.
This could be at work, and could mean calling out a co-worker for sexist remarks or even taking a stand for equal pay. Make sure your female colleagues around the business know that you have their back, and they should have yours. We are at our most powerful when fighting united. And it doesn’t have to be restricted to the workplace. Let’s start calling out sexism and discrimination everywhere. Don’t stand for catcalling or men who get gropey after their fifth tequila shot. Let it be known when someone is making you uncomfortable or behaving out of turn. Growl when they tell you to smile. Contribute to the dismantling of rape culture. Start believing victims and start blaming the one true cause of rape – rapists.
If you believe in something and actively seek out change, you need to make it know. Silence is committal. Taking a backseat and opting to ‘stay neutral’ or neglecting to comment either way automatically puts you in defence of the oppressor. Of course the easiest option is to stay quiet. Of course there will be less backlash and uproar and debates if your opinions stay inside your head. But we need to raise our voices and our concerns until we are unapologetically loud. Stay angry, regardless of the ‘aggressive feminist’ comments designed to shush. We cannot be silenced. My current favourite thing to do is meet any unwarranted and oppressive comments by asking for the comment to be explained and repeated, and questioning the meaning of said statement until the perpetrator is more uncomfortable than they ever dreamed of making you.
Take action for equality.
March. For everything: ending gender violence, reproductive justice, body autonomy and freedom of choice for all women, labour rights and equal pay for equal work, environmental justice and recognition of its links with social inequality, ending racism, disability rights and police brutality. Regardless of what it is you believe in, take a stand. Protest. Combat inequality in any way possible. Bring women together and learn from each other. Take on board the struggles of other women, because whilst they are not free, neither are we – even if their shackles are different to our own. In all aspects of your life, deconstruct misogyny and smash the goddamn patriarchy.