The call to challenge stereotypes and biases comes along with the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.” According to the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), the theme hopes to celebrate the efforts of women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. It also highlights the growing obstacles women and girls have faced as a result of the current health crisis.
“Women stand at the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, as health care workers, caregivers, innovators, community organizers and as some of the most exemplary and effective national leaders in combating the pandemic. The crisis has highlighted both the centrality of their contributions and the disproportionate burdens that women carry.” While women served as front-line and health workers throughout the pandemic and some of the best responses to the COVID-19 pandemic were led by women, these women are still paid 11% less globally than their male counterparts. Women’s International Day is thus advocating for generation and gender equality to ensure an equal future for generations to come.
Change starts with awareness, and International Women’s Day reminds us that change is possible.
International Women’s Day was created in 1911 following calls to celebrate women on the same day in all countries. The day was coined to acknowledge the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women despite race, religion, or identity. In addition to celebrating women’s achievements worldwide, people use the day to remind one another of the importance of gender equality. In the past, the day has been celebrated with festivals, marathons, and other events, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most events this year are virtual.
Celebrating women one day a year is not enough, but having a day that brings women together to celebrate one another online and offline is inspirational. Let’s continue to celebrate women’s achievements and raise awareness against bias.
In addition to ending stereotypes against women, we need to work towards ending the divisions women have amongst ourselves. Feminism is intersectional. A woman is not defined by her body parts. A woman is not defined by her race or skin color. A woman is not defined by her age, disability status, or sexual preference. A woman is defined by the way in which she defines herself. If we want to fight for equality and justice, we must first see equality and do justice within ourselves and with others. Be accepting and understanding. Only then will we succeed in no longer just advocating for safety, justice, and equality, but achieving it.
Who inspires you? Sound off in the comments to celebrate inspiring women!
Happy International Women’s Day!