Every year on March 8 we are reminded to celebrate women and advocate for gender equality around the world. But here’s a radical thought, what if we celebrate and advocate for women – hear me out – every day.
According to the World Economic Forum, gender parity will not be attained for almost a century; that’s nearly 100 years at the current rate of change. This means women living today will not see gender parity in their lifetimes, and nor will many of their children.
With that in mind, the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #ChooseToChallenge; encouraging men and women to continue challenging the world, to be responsible for their actions, and to choose change.
So, what if we choose to celebrate women every day? All of us, collectively, seeking to highlight women’s achievements, encouraging inclusivity, and supporting one another.
What if we choose, as men and women, to make every small action count? To create the space for our female colleagues to shine; to raise awareness against bias; and to challenge the status quo.
My generation has been lucky to be raised with March 8 being celebrated every year – but what is today really? The seeds were first planted in 1908 when thousands of women marched through New York City to demand better wages and the right to vote, among other concerns.
In 1975 – only a mere 67 years later! – things were made official when the United Nations started to celebrate the day. But many of the demands of 1908 are still very much true around the world. How can we, as a generation, forge a path towards change; not 100 years from now, but today and every day? With small, deliberate and continuous actions.
Across the world we have made incredible scientific, economic and technological advances, but no country has achieved gender equality, still. We’ve been to space, we’ve cured diseases, we’ve destroyed the planet and we’ve baked feta cheese.
The point is, despite all our progress as a species; women hold only 28 per cent of managerial positions globally, only 25 per cent of the world’s parliamentarians are women, and one in three women still experience gender-based violence.
My small action today, and every day, is to celebrate the extraordinary women in Bahrain who volunteer their time to female empowerment. The inspirational advocates of Shamsaha take time away from their loved ones to support women facing domestic or sexual violence, by operating two 24-hour helplines. Working with these women up close and personal has shown me what true female empowerment and unconditional support is.
So, how do we ‘Choose to Challenge’? By making every day count for women and girls around the world. By encouraging our girls to join STEM programmes, every day. By supporting our women in leadership roles, every day. By celebrating our successes, big or small, professional or personal, every day.
Noor Toorani is a columnist, speaker and the former Deputy Editor of the GDN. She can be contacted on [email protected]