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International Women’s Day 2021 #ChooseToChallenge

International Women’s Day 2021 #ChooseToChallenge

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is Choose To Challenge #choosetochallenge.

“A challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change.
So let’s all choose to challenge.

How will you help forge a gender equal world? Celebrate women’s achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality.”

Celebrating Women

It’s such an interesting concept… why do we need to be celebrated? Aren’t we past that? Aren’t we equal? I find myself asking that all the time, yet the answer is always the same. No.

It’s always no. In my 32 years of existence, I’ve watched the world as I’ve developed and in 32 years, the conversations are still the same. Gender inequality. Women seen as inferior, now many people will say that’s not true – not in developed countries at least. Don’t kid yourself.

Yes, we’ve made huge strides. But let’s be clear, the fight is still so real. It’s not over and I’m certainly not negating what’s been done and what’s been achieved. But it’s not enough. The walls are still there and we need to break through them.

So here’s a list for you.. a list of reasons why we have to keep asking for more. Not because we’re greedy, not because we want more… but because more levels the playing field.

  1. Have a read of this Marie Claire article: 10 Things That Cost More for Women Than They Do for Men. How is it that women have to pay more for the say house hold items?
  2. Gender Pay Gap – we all know that woman are still paid less than men. I have first hand experience of this. I used to work for a well-known manufacturer of large household appliances. When I worked there, due to the volume of work, my role was split in to two parts and I shared it with a man. Not only did he try to undermine my intelligence every second he got but he was paid more than I was. He also had a company car. Interesting right? I didn’t have a formal university education, so essentially, I got my Masters while working, working since the age of 17. I rose up the ranks and I was given the same role as someone with less experience and he was paid more. Interesting. Frustrating and downright appalling.
  3. Women are underrepresented in government. Yes, finally – the USA has a female in the White House.. but come on. Why did it take so long? And while the number of women has increased in the House of Commons – we’re only at 34%? There’s only 28% women in the House of Lords. And when we consider Boris Johnson’s current Cabinet make up..Five ministers in the current Cabinet (23%) are women. The highest proportion of women in Cabinet was 36% between 2006 and 2007. So actually, we’re represented disproportionately. Women are roughly half of the UK population. In 2019 the population of the United Kingdom was over 66 million, with 33.82 million females and 32.98 million males. This gender distribution is reflected in all four countries that make up the United Kingdom, with over half a million more women in England than men, and 100 thousand more females than males in Scotland.

4. Women are in the minority when it comes to executive roles, tech and the media. In 2020, only five FTSE 100 companies are steered by women.

5. Women still shoulder most of the household burden. I’m lucky in my home that my husband is such an excellent chef. Surprising me with meals that I never knew I could love! But that is not always that case. How many of you can actually say that your partner stepped up during lockdown and supported you more in the home? At the end of March and April 2020, women were spending 44% more time on unpaid household work and 55% more time on unpaid childcare than men.

6. Women are overall at a higher risk of rape and domestic violence. A 2018 analysis of prevalence data from 2000-2018 across 161 countries and areas, conducted by WHO on behalf of the UN Interagency working group on violence against women, found that worldwide, nearly 1 in 3, or 30%, of women have been subjected to physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner or non-partner sexual violence or both. Sorry, WTF.

7. Ever wondered what might happen when you get old and retire?

 £51,100 is the average amount in a 60-year-old woman’s pension pot (compared with £156,500 for men).

5-7% is the amount women need to save more than men to enjoy the same level of income in retirement.

So yes.. please do keep paying us less. You’re making old age and retirement so much easier. Oh and remember, women are the ones that take maternity leave and are more likelier to work part time due to family commitments – that contributes to the problem. We’re paid less and an unequal distribution of child care responsibilities means we’re the ones who are more likely to struggle when we retire.

8. This one blew my mind: Women are 47% more likely to suffer severe injuries in car crashes because safety features are designed for men.

9. For every female film character, there are 2.24 men. The Geena Davis Institute analysed 120 theatrical releases between 2010 and 2013 in 10 countries – and found that of the 5,799 speaking or named characters, less than a third (30.9%) were female and more than a third (69.1%) were male.

10. 33,000 girls are forced to become child brides every day. This world atlas shows information on child marriage for every country in the world. Child marriage is a global issue, it’s rooted in gender equality BUT NOT JUST THAT, it’s rooted in poverty, lack of education, traditions but deep down – they are just seen as second class citizens, not worthy of their human rights. Girls Not Brides is a great resource to learn more. Please take the time to do so.

You don’t need to be a woman to celebrate International Women’s Day. You don’t need to be a woman to advocate for other woman. Lean In is a fantastic resource for men wanting to help shape a better, equal and inclusive world.

As a man, you don’t need to speak over women – we’ll listen to you, so give us the same courtesy and listen to us. If a women, isn’t heard or given the opportunity to speak – is it any wonder there are so few female CEOs?

As a man you can actively discourage misogyny in the workplace. Stop the jokes are the expense of women, stop the comments around ‘time of the month’. Do you need to say ‘he throws like a girl’? I mean there are some excellent women bowlers in many a cricket team, baseball team, netball team…

Think about how your daughter, sister, wife, girlfriend or mother would feel if someone treated them like they were inferior. Would you be okay with that? Empower the women around you, encourage them – challenge yourself to be better.

I’ll leave with you with this. Choose to challenge, choose to change.