In recent years, we have seen a huge increase in the number of individuals and brands interacting with International Women’s Day.
More so than ever, corporate companies are showcasing a diverse range of women’s stories and images in association with the occasion. We know that “you can’t be what you can’t see”, so this is a fundamental first step towards addressing the inequalities women face in the workplace.
IWD also provides a welcome break from the toxicity and unkindness of the internet. Social media feeds will be a heart-warming stream of your connections, of all gender identities, celebrating the influential women in their lives. Mothers, sisters, friends, mentors, idols – the list goes on.
But the big questions is, what next?
Increasing the visibility and diversity of women’s stories and valuing their input into society through words is only the first step on the road to gender equality. So this International Women’s Day, we want to encourage you to think about some of the things you could do to really make a difference.
Ask your employer to make a change
Many larger organisations will have systems in place for employees to give feedback, highlight issues or suggest change. Why not ask your employer to put their money where their mouth is this International Women’s Day and submit a suggestion that would make things better for women in your workplace. Pushing organisations to see IWD as a time to make a change rather than a marketing opportunity will be increasingly important as the event continues to gain popularity.
Donate vital resources
Living in poverty has a huge impact, no matter who you are. But for women, it presents additional challenges.
This could be because of additional things that women need. You can help ease the daily troubles of women living in poverty by donation period products to charities like Bloody Good Period or The Homeless Period. And Smalls for All allows you to donate bras (if they’re still in decent shape!).
Then there is the issue of many women who are financially dependent on abusive partners. If you’ve got unwanted kitchenware, toiletries, good quality clothing or non perishable food items, you can use Women’s Aid’s incredibly useful directory to find your nearest refuge to donate to.
If you are really committed to making a change, volunteering for an organisation that focuses on girls and women can be invaluable. There are so many organisations out there doing outstanding work, but who can’t do it without the help of volunteers.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of GFS and without them, it would be impossible to reach girls and young women in the way that we do. Giving time at a local group help challenge the root causes of gender inequality for future generations, but also gives women of all ages an incredible sense of purpose and satisfaction.
Support women’s businesses
The Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship in 2019 revealed that two thirds of entrepreneurs are men, with only 5.6% of women running their own businesses. Where you put your pound can have a real impact, so consider whether there is a local business owned by a woman that you could switch to. With increased economic power comes greater societal power for women.
While there’s no definitive list of women-owned businesses, TalentPool do have a round up of 50 woman founded businesses in London, which is an interesting read (although we do note a woeful under representation of black women on the list!).
Talk to a girl about feminism
At GFS we believe that it’s vital to start to combat gender inequality from an early age. There’s no need to be afraid to talk to the next generation about feminism. You might feel reluctant to disillusion boys and girls by pointing out the inequalities that still exist between the sexes, but doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom.
One easy example could come if you’re watching a TV show or film with no central girl characters, or just one girl, who’s side-lined – ask them what they think about it, and offer to look for something more inspiring. Helping children to notice negative stereotypes and male centric language will give them the vocabulary and confidence to challenge sexist claptrap when they encounter it.
Calling out negative or harmful behaviour can be incredibly difficult, particularly if you don’t feel that there are people around you who will back you up. That said, when we are silent about sexism, we only allow it to continue.
Why not challenge yourself to question sexist behaviour this International Women’s Day? It could be as simple as saying “would you say the same thing about a man” or “have you thought about how that might sound to a woman” or “I disagree with that point of view actually”. We think you’ll be surprised by how many people will be willing to listen to or support you.
Show your support with a charity membership
Volunteering too much of a commitment? There are still ways to support charities without giving up your time. Many charities, GFS included, have a membership scheme. Becoming a member of a charity is a great way to show your support – membership fees go towards delivering the organisation’s activities and most places will offer you something in return.
At GFS we send a special quarterly members email with exclusive GFS content and everyone gets a GFS pin to wear with pride so that everyone knows you play a part in empowering girls and young women. Sign up for your membership now.