I Need Us to Talk About International Women's Day, & Why It Matters in 2019

This piece has been syndicated from Her Campus FSU. You can join a chapter at your school (or start your own!).

March 8, 2019, is a very special day to women all over the world. It is the day that women are celebrated globally and that the gender inequalities that we face every day are brought to the forefront. International Women’s Day (IWD) celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women thus far, while also calling for a balanced world through groups and communities worldwide.

So I'm here to talk you through it.

What is IWD’s purpose?

This year, IWD’s campaign theme is #BalanceforBetter because living in a balanced world is better for everyone. “We notice its absence and celebrate its presence,” the official IWD website explains. “Everyone has a part to play – all the time, everywhere.”

This campaign certainly doesn’t end after IWD. The fight for a more balanced world is one we need to keep up now more than ever. Gender balance is essential for economies, communities and businesses to thrive. There is an absence of balance in the government, in the media, in sports, in wealth, in boardrooms and so on when it comes to gender. IWD is not an event on one day, but it’s a campaign that will run until we do live in a balanced world.

So, why is it important?

IWD and the campaign it proposes is necessary in today’s world because although women have made great strides toward equality, there is still much work to be done and many more strides to take. Women are unfortunately still not getting paid equally to that of their male counterparts. Women are not represented equally in politics or business, as well as legislative rights. And on an international level, women are being treated with disgusting violence, severe lack of education and an upsetting lack of health resources.

The stats to back it up, according to Lean In:

  • According to The Guardian, at this rate, it will take 202 years to close the gender pay gap globally.
  • According to Harvard University’s implicit Association Test, 76% of people more readily associated men with “career” and women with “family.”
  • When a woman’s name was replaced with a man’s name on a resume, evaluators were over 60% more likely to say they would hire the applicant.
  • 59% of Black women have never had an informal interaction with a senior leader at their company.
  • Men interrupt women 3 times more often than other men.
  • In a study of performance reviews, 66% of women received negative feedback on their personal style such as, “You can sometimes be abrasive.” Only 1% of men received the same type of feedback.

Some recent, groundbreaking achievements in 2018:

  • The UK introduced mandatory gender pay gap reporting.
  • Saudi Arabia made it legal for women to drive.
  • El Salvador passed a law to protect women from violence at work.
  • Spain’s prime minister appointed a majority-women cabinet.
  • Starbucks promised 100% pay equality for women and minorities.
  • Adobe achieved equal pay globally.

What can you do?

Creating a gender-balanced world is a global issue and something that is a shared responsibility for all of us. International Women’s Day and gender equality is not just for women; anyone and everyone can, and should, get involved and fight for what is right. You can use your social media to follow the accounts and keep up to date with events, activities and opportunities that you and your community can engage in. Motivate others through posts and support of IWD and, perhaps most importantly, educate yourself and others about the importance of this initiative.

Think past your own experiences and expand your thoughts and concerns to a global standpoint. There is so much that we don’t know and so much that we can’t directly control, yet so much that we can still fight for and still speak out about. The more people that are aware of the issues women face worldwide, the more balanced we can be.