Thursday, March 8 is International Women’s Day, and this year the campaign theme is #PressforProgress, with the aim of encouraging everyone to take action toward gender parity.
With momentum from the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, women have pressed for powerful change in 2018. This International Women’s Day, it’s important to reflect on those movements along with all the other activists around the world fighting for gender equality every day.
This year, the UN is encouraging everyone to “transform this momentum into action, to empower women in all settings, rural and urban, and celebrate the activists who are working relentlessly to claim women’s rights and realize their full potential.”
Luckily, there are many opportunities for action at both the individual and national levels. Here are just a few ideas for promoting gender equality and celebrating the important contributions of women.
1. Recognize women’s diverse roles in the workplace
Globally, women’s multifaceted contributions to society are not given the same weight as those of men. Whether this is in terms of employment — for example, the “double jeopardy” faced by women of color in the STEM industries — or the unpaid care work that many women provide in addition to working one or more jobs. While the gender pay gap remains a complicated issue, there’s not doubt that women face significant barriers to earning the same pay as their male counterparts — and that has to change.
2. Make sure our lawmakers know that women’s rights matter!
How to take action: The Iowa Senate Judiciary Committee has just brought a “heartbeat bill” to the full senate, which challenges the Supreme Court decisions that have guaranteed a woman’s right to choose. Protect Women’s Rights by signing this petition to oppose the bill.
Contact your member of Congress and tell them that you believe women’s rights are non-negotiable. Not from the U.S.? You can still email or write your lawmakers through government portals and address women’s rights issues with them.
3. Stand up for trans women and trans girls.
Trans women face the same pressures as many other women — but with an added layer of discrimination. If they also belong to a racial or religious minority, the risks of unemployment, homelessness and healthcare discrimination can all converge. Now that the federal government has announced it will no longer support trans rights under the federal Civil Rights Act, trans women will face even more injustice.
Trans people are among the most vulnerable in our society, but they are also some of our leading voices of change. Standing with women like Laverne Cox, Jamie Clayton, Lana Wachowski and so many more public figures giving a voice to trans women is vital to advancing the women’s rights cause.
Hear Laverne Cox’s comments on the Trump administration’s reversal below:
How to take action: Use social media to elevate trans women’s voices, attend rallies with trans women and educate yourself by listening to trans women discuss the challenges they face.
4. Male? Be vocal about your support!
If you identify as male and you are visible about your support for women, it can make a massive difference. That’s because, even though many men would never knowingly enter a system that is inherently unfair and stacked in their favor, that’s often what happens in various employment and education sectors. By recognizing this fact and refusing to accept it as the norm, we can elevate women’s voices and work with them to demand a change.
In this video, several women share their stories and what it means when allies stand with them:
How can you do this? One way could be to examine your workplace. How are female employees treated? Do they have the same opportunities as men? Visibly supporting your female coworkers can help to reinforce that gender parity is a vital part of a healthy professional environment. And remember, we’re not just doing this for the women of today, but for our daughters and the next generation of women to come.
5. Stand up for the right to education for every girl in the world
Globally, many women are disadvantaged early in life by having little to no access to consistent education programs. This means they are cut off from learning the skills that allow them to take control of their lives, secure a job, increase their earnings and take charge of their reproductive health. In fact, UNESCO estimates that 31 million girls of primary school age out are out of school at any one time, while a staggering 17 million are expected to never attend school at all.
Changing those circumstances remains a fundamental goal of many human rights agencies across the world, and we can help support this vital work. Fighting to support the right to an education, protection from child marriage and access to the same opportunities as her male counterparts is something we owe every young girl. We can raise this issue with lawmakers, support charities that help emancipate young women and, most of all, keep discussing these issues to ensure that the spotlight doesn’t disappear.
An earlier version of this article was published in March 2017.
Photo Credit: UN Women/Flickr
Wednesday, March 8, is International Women’s Day. Here are just a few ideas about how you can Be Bold For Change!