So I woke up this morning, International Women’s Day, 8th March 2018, with mixed emotion: “I really should write a blog” (insert conforming to a perceived expectation and sense of responsibility), “I really should be proud and acknowledge all we are achieving” (insert celebrating the marketed 'progress'), “But really does it mean anything?” (insert questioning and contemplating the real progress we have made), “FxxK there is still so much to do!” (insert frustration at the one step forward and quite a few back). And....Sigh.
This International Women’s Day I really do feel like a hamster running around a wheel, doing the same rotation again and again. Permit me to list the thoughts running through my head:
Within the business arena (and don't forget that IWD was originally named International Working Women's Day), there is still vast inequality. The glass ceiling is still very much there, and it seems to be made of shatterproof material. Women continue to earn less than their male counterparts ($253.70 less per week or 15.3%), the levels of women in c-suite and above are still not equal (in January 2018, 26.2% of directors in the ASX 200 are women and over one-quarter (29.1%) of Workplace Gender Equality Agency reporting organisations have no key management personnel who are women). It would appear that the doors to job opportunities continue to be held tightly shut, the group think of the boy’s club still exists and the majority of industry and decision making are continuing to be made by the white 50-year old males.
Within the home environment, in terms of simply living our lives, we as women are very much made to feel that we need to be superheroes - to be truly successful, we must run a home, raise beautiful and intelligent children, maintain a healthy relationship and also have an excellent and fulfilling career and of course look and feel awesome at the same time. And yet, what I see everyday, is this ‘perceived norm’ is resulting in too many women running themselves ragged – they are certainly not attaching the proverbial oxygen mask to themselves first.
Within social media and social networking channels the conversations, the sharing of imagery (at least what I am seeing in my own world of big and small people) is perpetuating the obsession with body image and a need to be liked and accepted by the masses. According to a report commissioned by Dove in 2016, over half the girls around the world do not have good body esteem and 89% of Australian women are choosing to cancel plans, job interviews or other important engagements simply because of how they look. And despite higher awareness of the pressures imposed by media, social media and advertising, one out of every two Australian women report they feel worse about themselves after looking at images of attractive women in magazines. Dr. Susan Paxton, who was involved in the research adds, “Women are under many pressures to conform to beauty ideals, and the report shows that social media is presenting a new presenting a new challenge and adding pressure to look a certain way. The findings are certainly a call for action”.
Within society we don’t seen to be making significant headway with the high levels of domestic violence, sexual abuse, bullying and inappropriate behaviours that are intended to make women feel inferior, frightened and silenced. And whilst voices have become stronger as a result of various campaigns in the last 12 months, the reality is that for too long these same voices had been silenced. The evidence is there, loud and clear to support the continuing lack of equality:
And when it comes to IWD2018 events, I have read many social media posts and listened to many conversations questioning the real purpose of these events – Where are all the men? Why are the events at the crack of dawn adding increasing pressure on those working parents? Why is it up to the women to organise? Do these events actually mean anything? Are they really driving any change or are they simply a ‘tick in the box’ statement?
So, if you have got this far in this blog I’m hoping you at least have an understanding of why I woke up this morning with mixed feelings about IWD2018.
Now, I know I am no wonder woman, traversing the world in my invisible jet of super power. But what I am is this. I am a woman, a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter and a friend with dreams of a better and improved future. I am passionate about diversity and believe we are all responsible for change today and tomorrow. I believe we can change ourselves and the next generation to come. I know together we can create a more balanced world for tomorrow.
For me IWD isn’t about one day.
It’s about making every day matter – how we behave, how we speak, how we support the right and how we challenge the wrong. Everything all adds up. Everything creates a ripple and when those ripples get strong then we have the wave.
To all those incredible women and men in my world who are committed to this every day - I thank you and I am honoured to be on this journey with you. You are all an important part of my world and I know that together, we can create change.