Tuesday 8 March 2022

Break The Bias

We have to travel all the way back in time to the early 1900s to find the origins of International Women's Day. Although originally held in February, and then on a few different dates in March, in 1913 March 8 was enshrined as International Women's Day and that date has remained unchanged ever since.

It all started in 1909 in New York, when a suffragist demanded better working terms for thousands of female workers who went on strike over gender inequality. The one year anniversary of that strike was then formally declared America's first Nation Women's Day in honour of those women.

Shortly after this, over in German, the idea of an International Women's Day was proposed in a bid to encourage women from every country to have a day where they could push for better equality. A conference of over 100 women from 17 different countries made it official and International Women's Day was officially celebrated for the first time in 1911 by German and some of its neighbours.

From there it grew and is now recognised in 100 countries around the world!

So let's get into what International Women's Day mean today. 

Fundamentally, it still stands for the same thing; trying to eliminate gender inequalities that still exist over century later. The pay gap still exists between men and women, there are no enough women given prominent leadership position and violence against women happens daily.

Indeed in a post-Covid world, research suggests that we have moved in the wrong direction due to demands of lockdown pushing women more towards the old-fashioned homemaker role and the gender gap is now wider than it was a few years ago.

International Women's Day is there to shine a light on these things and give women a platform to try to drive change. It is a global day for celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women's equality.

That is why the theme of this year's International Women's Day is #BreakTheBias where we should all challenge ourselves and others to break both the conscious and unconscious bias and stereotypes that hold women back in the workplace, in communities and in education.

As part of #BreakTheBias, men and women around the world are encouraged to share photos of themselves in the #BreakTheBias pose, showing that they are rejecting outdated thinking that stops us all from moving forwards as a society. Cross your arms to show solidarity with them!

You can also show your support for IWD 2022 by wearing purple, green and white; purple for justice and dignity, green for hope and white for purity. 

It should be said that the inclusion of white for purity is certainly a controversial choice. When these 3 colours were chosen over a hundred years ago, the view of how a woman should behave is very different to how it is today and it is a legacy of outdated thinking and old-fashioned attitudes unfortunate. 

Perhaps International Women's Day should take it's own advice and break free from the past by ditching that colour and replace it with something that better represents what women can offer the world today.

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