In todays society, whether we notice it or not, all women are prone to sexist comments and discrimination on a regular basis. We see women being objectified, singled out and discriminated against through not only the most common and well known scenario of in the workforce – but through the media unconsciously. From even young ages such as 7, women are thrown into the stereotype of how a woman should look and act in order to be accepted, and embedded into them is the ideology of ‘women’s norms’. In a survey conducted by “Equality For Girls” which surveyed over 1,200 girls and women aged 7-11 it was revealed that 87% of the 11-21 year olds said they thought women were judged based on their appearance, and not their abilities. Not only this, but girls believed that motherhood still was a disadvantage to women in the workplace and shockingly almost half of those girls worry that having children will negatively affect their career! Similarly, the majority of the girls believed that employers at least to some extent prefer to employ men over women.
Due to this, International Women’s Day (IWD) was created as a global event to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women all over the world. Specifically, this year, IWD focuses on the call to action for accelerating gender parity through the hashtag #PledgeForParity. Although no government, charity, corporation, academic institution or network is completely responsible for the creation and running of IWD, a vast amount of organisations, celebrities and public figures all declare the annual theme to support their own specific cause or agenda.
Gloria Steinem (World-renowned feminist, journalist and social and political activist) –
“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”
The levels of criticism female celebrities and women in the public eye in the media has vastly affected young women’s aspirations to be in similar positions one day. 43% say the way women are criticised for how they look on TV has put them off ever wanting to be in a position where they’d appear on TV themselves. Therefore through IWD, popular public figures and celebrities can enforce themselves standing up to women’s rights and hopefully reflect this to younger girls/women in order to inspire them to follow their dreams.
International Women’s Day was created in order to encourage celebration, reflection, advocacy, and action – something that was seen on this day massively on social media.
Kim Kardashian was a huge influence on IWD. With 41.5M followers on twitter, she successfully promoted the campaign worldwide. Not only did she post this ‘body proud’ image of herself, but after receiving a great amount of hate for this picture alone, she posted a blog post on IWD as well. This caused huge debates about what is right and wrong for women to do – Again enhancing how women are judged for their appearance, motherhood and occupation.
Social Media was huge for International Women’s Day and one of the biggest successes was the Snapchat ‘Live’ Stories. This meant that women all over the world could post with the theme of ‘I’m a woman and I can…’ sharing their support for IWD. Not only this but HUGE public figures such as Michelle Obama featured on the Snapchat story showing their support. Michelle is recorded stating –
“Happy International Women’s Day. Join us as we celebrate the amazing contributions of women and girls worldwide. I know you’ll be as inspired as I am”
Of course, society has witnessed a huge significant change in both society’s thoughts of women but also the way women themselves view women’s equality. And for many of the younger generation it may appear that the issue of female discrimination has been overcome and won, however it must be noted that there still is presence in the complexity of patriarchy to be tackled now and in the future. In some cases it could be said that women have gained full equality, the growing and impressive visibility of female role models in all aspects of the media, the increased amount of women in boardrooms and the greater equality in women’s rights could all suggest this. But research shows that there is still a range of hurdles for Women’s Equality in order to achieve what we consider FULL equality in society.
With great improvements year on year, and with the help of ALL women out there, women are beginning to feel inspired to celebrate their achievements and stand up for who they are. With the help of International Women’s Day occurring continuously for over a century – Women’s day is becoming every day.