“How will you help forge a gender equal world? Celebrate women's achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality.”
That’s the question behind this years IWD pledge your support. Before we start, let me stress, my support for women is immeasurable, hence why my feelings on this are so strong. Much like the Black Lives Matter movement, it’s 2021 and we still aren’t doing enough to discuss and shine a light on the issues of in equality that are continuously suffered by women, ethnic minorities and the LGBTQ communities.
My biggest gripe? It’s just 24 hours out of 8,760 when we see a flurry of pictures of folks with their hands in the air pledging to support and celebrate women. How many of these people follow through? How many companies post these pictures “to be seen”, yet behind the scenes they are rarely making any moves to actually bring about a positive change?
Do we really need another campaign to outline the issues women have faced and still face in modern society or, if we are completely honest with ourselves, I’m sure we already know the true issues: wage gap, poor treatment of women who decide to have families, discrimination in the workforce, lack of representation, sexism… the list is endless really.
How about we lower our hands and instead, pull up our sleeves and get stuck in to the dirty issues that have not changed for so long?
Before the naysayers jump in with “oh here comes another burning bra feminist with something to say to spoil the party” just hear me out.
I’ve been working in construction for over 16 years and I’ve almost always been the only woman onsite, in meetings and down in the trenches. I love working with men so let me just put that fire out right now. I have, however, seen and experienced pretty much all of the issues that IWD is supposed to help raise awareness of, and the sad reality is, 24 hours of social media hype isn’t going to get us anywhere fast.
So what’s the solution? Hard hitting facts, education and for women to stand up and shout about their experiences. The shock value when I share my own stories - with both men and women - is sometimes the only way to get folks attention and possibly make consider change in both the overarching system and individual attitudes.
So would an ‘International Day of Hard Truths’ not have more of an impact? It definitely doesn’t have the same ring to it, but it worked with #METOO. It’s not a glamorous campaign that companies will happily jump on board with, but maybe they could hold back on the expenses used to “get something out there on IWD to show we are doing something” campaign, and use it to actually make a difference behind.
And for those who are genuinely making a difference - and let me be clear there are many - maybe they could share their experiences and any frameworks they have built or changed that are serving women well, so that others can learn from them.
I’m pretty certain many women would stand beside me if they had the choice of either being celebrated and empathised for the day, or have the real issues discussed and dealt with quietly in the background. I bet they’d choose the latter.
So there you go, here is my pledge - to fearlessly share my stories and those of the women around me every day of the year to ensure our voices are heard and lasting change can be made all year around.