For one day a year, it’s International Women’s Day.
That day happens to be tomorrow, the 8th March. And so, just like every year that I’ve been working in media (whether writing for legal, business, tech or women’s publications), for the past few days and weeks I’ve been receiving endless emails and pitches from individuals and businesses looking for a hook to tie into this time of year.
You may have also noticed over the last few days plenty of news articles and features about ‘women’, with our half of the population granted some attention in the media (beyond the usual celebrity, weight loss, and wellbeing pieces).
You may have heard that tomorrow on the ABC, only female presenters will appear across all its radio and television programs — with the men given tasks to complete off air. You may have also heard that a number of major employers and corporates are extending their paid parental leave schemes, introducing a new sponsorship program, or doing something else to support the women in their organisations. Meanwhile in Melbourne, the male silhouette traffic light signals are being feminised in order to promote gender equality.
Such announcements and stories will dry up in the days following IWD. My inbox will become easier to manage, there will be a new angle for public relations experts to push in the media. News editors will return to their usual focus. Life will return to normal. Women and men will return to the status quo. The same status quo that has stood in the way of the change that really needs to occur before we can finally remove the need for an ‘International Woman’s Day’.
And yes, once again women will be relegated to making up just one fifth of the sources that appear as experts in our newspapers, and just over one fifth of the opinion pieces publish across our major publications. At least the traffic light signals in Melbourne will still look ‘female’.
But until then, we have tomorrow. One day to acknowledge a vast range of gender inequalities that span everything from forced marriage and violence to a lack of women in key leadership roles. We have one day to discuss the issues, to have the leaders of our workplaces take notice, and sign up to the IWD’s 2017 theme to ‘Be Bold for Change’.
And it’s great that we have this time to stand up and to reflect and to incorporate the #BeBoldForChange hashtag into our tweets. It’s great that even those businesses that don’t do a whole lot throughout the rest of the year, can at least make a stand right now — even if that’s as progressive as declaring, ‘look at us, we finally hired a woman!”
But one day a year for women isn’t enough.
Maybe we need 66 days, one for every extra day a woman has to work before she can equal the annual salary of an equivalent full-time working man.
Or 71 days, representing the number of women who were killed due to an act of violence in 2016.
Or 15 days, one for each of the ASX 200 companies that still do not have a single woman on their board. (This time last year it was 24, so things are improving there)
Or 169 days, one for every year the World Economic Forum predicts we’ll have to wait until gender equality.
Or perhaps just 182.5 days, half of the 365 days on offer this year. Representing true equality between men and women.
Really, every day should be International Women’s Day.
We’re daughters and sisters and mothers and partners. We’re leaders and creators and game-changers.
We’re a central part of every day and we should expect nothing less.
Until that becomes our reality. Happy International Women’s Day.