It took me a while to fathom why the International Women’s Day made me so unhappy lately. For one thing, it has replaced the (disappearing?) cuckoo as the herald of Spring. It is plastered everywhere the eye rests – from the coffee cup to the brown bag, the cubicle to the reality show banner. There are brands that ask you to #cherishher, and others that want you to #uncelebrate. But, all they really want is for you to ‘buy her’ jewelry. An ad film shows the ‘woman of the house’ deciding to #takeabreak on the day, while her domestically disabled husband whines about how he can’t make tea! Another tells you that every day is Women’s Day – but they still release the ad on the 8th of March. Women’s Day has suddenly become Santa Claus’ gendered venture. Diversity departments wrap roses, cakes, and beauty products in wrappers of inanity, reinforcing the stereotype on ‘what women must cherish’. Before it goes full monty and becomes Valentine’s Day chapter 2, can we quickly refocus on what it means to #PressforProgress?
Since 1910, when the International Socialist Women’s Conference was organized, the day has held significance in many parts of the world. 8th of March, 1917, was the day that women gained suffrage in Soviet Russia. It was declared by UN as the International Women’s Day in 1975, in commemoration of the blood, sweat, tears, and redemption that marked the suffragette movement. Today, it stands testimony to a movement that is inching forward in an attempt to create an equal world for all genders. So, before we raise the banner to dump the day, lets see if we can redeem it.
The theme of the International Women’s day 2018 was #PressforProgress. It was a pledge towards an equal society. And it does not have to be about gifting diamonds or making her breakfast in bed! There are simple ways to ensure you are more aware of your choices, thoughts, and finally actions. In this collective, globalized world, every choice counts, every opinion matters, and every voice is heard. It is time to repossess the International Women’s Day from the clutches of the consumerist overlords.
A Few Examples to Remind you why we can’t #Uncelebrate, yet!
- You are in your apartment monthly meeting, and you note only men/fathers/sons are representing their families.
#PressforProgress: Insist that women be present before you pass any rule/ policy. Ensure all genders read or sign before some decision is passed. It can be as trivial as changing the schedule of running the daily water pump. But it is important.
- Your team is planning a team event post work late in the evening. Can the female team members join?
Ensure you arrange for a time that is conducive to everyone. Everyone! The women, the busboy, the man who drives everyone around, the boss, the venue. You get the point.
- You send your son to cricket coaching. Your daughter wants to join too. Well?
Whatever justifications are running in your head, just stop. Let the enthusiast enjoy her game.
- You are at the dinner table talking about your leave getting rejected, and your mother says “women bosses are the worst”.
Speak up. Inform her about various women leaders across fields. Maybe your boss is not the greatest, but that makes her only an individual.
Celebrate: Break the ceiling every day in small ways
- Read up. Research about the success rate of women mathematicians, women engineers, women scientists, authors, actors, etc. and next time you hear someone say something stupid, use the data 😉 yeah it feels cool!
- When you talk about doctor, lawyer, banker, business person: does a Man come to your mind? Ensure you talk in a gender-neutral way. This is particularly important when you talk to kids. Guys can be models, nurses, and ballet dancers, while girls can be bus drivers, pilots, or anything she wishes to be!
- Support organizations that support equality: There are brands who maintain a diverse workforce. In today’s date that should not be optional. Show your support for those organizations. While doing business, or as a customer, ask about their diversity program, even if that is not related to your service or product.
- This might sound redundant, but it is important especially in the age of social media: Do not forward or share sexist memes /jokes. Trust me they are not funny anyway.
- Empower the less fortunate: you domestic help, your cook: talk to her about financial independence, about savings and interest. Gift them your old laptop and ask them to take free online courses!
Of course, there are million other things that you can do to empower women and to work towards an equal society, but these were some starting points. And finally, Feminism is All about Equality.
As per Merriam Webster: the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.
So happy International Women’s Day everyone, let us work together towards an inclusive, diverse, and a fair society, every single day!