International Women’s Day

This coming Thursday 8th March is International Women’s Day. Not a well-known celebration in Britain as such –  the day is bigger in the US and, ironically, in the countries with a bit of communist history behind them.  (it’s not surprising that when it started in the early 20th century the day was promoted by women in a socialist party).  Although not widely known, the day was officially recognised by the United Nations in 1975. Each year there is a theme and this year’s it’s #PressforProgress, with the hashtag already gaining traction on Twitter.

I’ve often wondered why we need to celebrate Woman’s Day. Surely, if gender equality is the goal, we should treat both men and women equally, with neither in more focus than the other?

It doesn’t take long though to snap out of this questioning phase – each week there is more news on gender pay gap, gender stereotyping and more recently the eye-opening #MeToo movement, with one side clearly suffering more than the other.

With this seemingly omnipresent feminism around us, often amplified by social media, it’s hard to believe that nowadays young women appear more likely to agree with some gender stereotypes than young men. According to Kantar TGI, in 2007 only 6% of women aged 15-24 agreed that ‘a woman’s place is in the home’, whereas within a decade that number has increased to 16% (yellow line below) – 3 percentage points above men aged 15-24.

It’s surprising to learn that the generation of women who are just finishing school or university and embarking on the start of their careers are also the ones who are most likely to think their place in in the home. Could this be linked to the 2007 Financial crisis, the rise of social media and its societal impact, education, the absence of role models, or some other factors?

Many organisations and brands are getting involved this week in celebrating International Women’s Day and the #PressforProgress campaign, which is great. Although one day won’t necessarily change the perceptions and attitudes, it’s a move in the right direction. But on top of the work that has been done so far,  I still feel there is a need for a long-term plan of action, and an opportunity for more brands to get involved in a meaningful long lasting programme for a good cause.


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