International Women’s Day: Today & Everyday!
Achieving a Gender-Equal World: Our Choice and Responsibility
Think about a gender equal world - a safe, inclusive, empowered and an equitable world built on values of respect, integrity, authenticity, diversity and harmony, and free of bias, discrimination and prejudice. The question is – can this turn into reality? The choice is in our hands!
What is special about today?
The United Nations first celebrated International Women’s Day on 8 March 1975 during the International Women’s Year in 1975 to highlight women’s achievements and bridge gender parity across the world.
The theme for International Women’s Day this year (IWD 2023) is, “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality” with a focus on the impact of the digital gender gap on widening economic and social inequalities. The endeavour is to acknowledge girls’ and women’s rights and lived experiences and change the prolonged narrative consisting of deep-rooted stereotypes and discrimination.
The Reality Check
Historically, as a girl child grows up, the social construct of being a ‘girl’ is introduced and ingrained deeply before she can identify her own voice as a child. In many patriarchal and ignorant societies across the world, gender roles tend to be defined rigidly and time and again, women are needed to prove themselves to be worthy of equal respect, education, employment, and the right to opportunities and equitable resources, which are still "privileges" in many social setups.
We often hear about gender inequality being reflected through statistics on a large number of girls dropping out of school or being subjected to child labour and abuse and not getting equal opportunities in society. Behind every number, there is a girl, who is denied the right to an education, good (physical and mental) health, and a sensitized environment for growth and awareness on an everyday basis. Those who are "privileged" to obtain their basic rights are let down by implicit prejudice towards them. Alongside the cases of explicit discrimination, what often remains neglected are the instances of microaggression against girls, which occur on an everyday basis. They are subtle gestures made intentionally or unintentionally, in the form of indirect comments, jokes, insensitive tones of language, and presumptions that can be hurtful or stereotypical towards a particular gender. This is a reality that is practiced and reinforced by different forms of media and the people around us.
In today’s day and age, deep intersectionality between gender and the quality of life is deeply concerning. The scenario is changing though. Women and girls have broken the glass ceiling, but there is still a long way to go. The reality of most girls in our country and across many parts of the globe seeks dynamic change through urgent and equitable action.
How to celebrate her every day?
The truth is that we have the power to change through our ‘choices’. It is not just about one day where we celebrate women, but little efforts every day by each one of us that will make a real difference. It will take courage each day to defeat the deep-seated conditioning in our heads and be able to make a safer, more inclusive, and empowered space for girl children and everyone alike. Here are some of the ways in which we can make this happen:
- Cultivate equal respect and integrity towards girls and women, which is the pre-requisite regardless of gender, age, caste, class, or region.
- Foster independent thought and expression through access to education, awareness, and financial literacy.
- Ensure access to good (physical, mental, menstrual, and emotional) health resources and facilities. Remember, little yet thoughtful gestures are one of the most powerful languages.
- Take a stand against child labour or marriage if you encounter such episodes.
- Be a part of the larger movement by supporting organizations which are passionately and genuinely working on issues of the girl child and women empowerment.
Let’s empower and celebrate her every day, and carve a path towards an inclusive, equitable and safe world for all!