What Is International Women’s Day?
International Women’s Day takes place every year on March 8th and celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It isn’t just one day; it’s a year-round celebration and campaign focussed on making the world a better place for everyone by promoting gender equality. Each year has a theme, 2019’s being “Better the Balance, Better the World”.
Why It’s Important
Despite massive strides forward, gender inequalities in our global society still exist and negatively impact us all. Women are significantly underrepresented in government, in the media, and in the boardroom and we know that gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive.
For example, according to the 2015 McKinsey report, “Diversity Matters”, companies with the highest levels of diversity are from 15% to 35% more likely to have financial returns above their industry’s average. Diversity is proven to foster innovation and creativity through a greater variety of problem-solving approaches, perspectives, and ideas.
Part of solving the problem of gender inequality is recognising it still exists. International Women’s Day activities help to create awareness of gender inequality and bring about meaningful conversations and actions that lead to positive change.
What You Can Do
- #BalanceforBetter – Share images of you and your friends on social media putting your hands out and striking the #BalanceforBetter pose. Add a caption explaining what gender equality means to you and what you pledge to do to help its progress.
- March – Show your support and join a march near you, or better yet, create one for your community to raise awareness and lobby those in power. A great source of information is Women’s March
- At work – Organise an event at your workplace. It can be as small as a lunch and learn session where you could brainstorm how to make your workplace fairer, or as big as a day of events including speakers, company statistics and workshops.
- Do Your Research – If you’re not sure how gender inequality affects you, or what you can do to create change, spend time sourcing books, podcasts, TED talks and articles or find a specialist to answer your questions.
- Money Equals Change – Part of the reason behind a lack of investment in female endeavours is cited as demand. Redress the balance by supporting women-owned businesses, watch films made by female directors and producers, buy a ticket to see a female comedian or watch a women’s sports team.
- Talk – Discussing gender inequality and some of the ways both men and women are negatively affected will help break down the barriers, especially when it comes to mental health.
How It Can Help Us All
According to the Mental Health Foundation, in England, women are reported to be more likely than men to have a common mental health problem and are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders. However, women’s readiness to talk about their feelings and their strong social networks can help protect their mental health. Men are statistically less likely to talk about mental health issues or to seek help and in the UK, men are three times more likely to take their own lives than women.
There are many complex reasons for these statistics, but they are due in part to society’s perceptions of gender roles and what is expected of men and women. This has to change, and by taking part in International Women’s Day, you are opening up a conversation and tackling gender inequality in a way that could save lives.
Not only that, according to research by Action for Happiness, people who have meaning and purpose in their lives are happier, feel more in control and get more out of what they do. They also experience less stress, anxiety and depression. Being connected to something bigger than ourselves, such as International Women’s Day, not only brings about positive change for society but also gives you a sense of power over the world you’re living in.
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