This article was written Wanjengu Mike, a social scientist and mental health advocate on the ocassion of International Women’s Day 2023. The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Youth Alive! Kenya.
The eighth of March marks International Women’s Day (IWD), an annual celebration of women’s achievements and perseverance in the face of adversity. Sadly, many individuals and groups celebrate IWD while continuing to treat women poorly on any other day of the year.
It’s one of the biggest hypocrisies that many corporations say they want to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment but then do little to improve things like women’s compensation, representation, or treatment in management. Even if they make remarks or host events in honor of IWD, this does not mean that their normal policies and procedures are being changed. There is still alack of female representation in many fields, and women typically have to put in extra time and effort before they are recognized and compensated fairly.
Participants in IWD celebrations who also indulge in sexist activities, such as sexual harassment or discrimination against women, are also hypocrites. These actions contribute to a toxic workplace, which might discourage women from speaking up and advancing in their professions. Joking about or referring to women in a disparaging way is just one example of how even little actions can add up to a society that normalizes prejudice.
Others may also utilize IWD to promote products or services that claim to empower women but exploit or objectify the target market. Organizations who promote their products with sexualized pictures of women or utilize International Women’s Day (IWD) as a promotional opportunity are not serious about achieving gender parity.
While it is important to appreciate the importance of celebrating IWD, it is also critical to understand that real change for women takes ongoing action throughout the year. Not just on a symbolic day like IWD, but every day, people and institutions should work to abolish discrimination against women and the gender gap. Doing so will lead to a more just and equal society for all people.