Men play a crucial role in celebrating International Women’s Day, which this year falls on Wednesday, March 8. The day isn’t only a gender issue; it’s an economic, social, cultural, and political issue. When the workload is balanced, everyone benefits.
In 2018, the International Monetary Fund did a study on these benefits, which showed that when gender gaps are reduced, economic productivity and corporate profit increase, banks are stabilized, overall health rates improve, and the economy at large is more resilient. Therefore, empowering women is crucial to global success.
International Women’s Day dates back to the early 1900s and was officially recognized by the United Nations in 1977. The day honours and celebrates women’s achievements while raising awareness and acting as a call to action for women’s equality. This year’s theme is about embracing equity, which embraces differences, inclusion, and the steps to create true equality.
Equity differs from equality. Imagine you and a group of friends are trying to watch a sports game, but you can’t see anything because a massive wooden fence surrounds the game. Equality means everyone is given identical stools. This is great for some, who are tall enough to still see over the fence, but those who are smaller might not be able to see over it, even with a stool.
Now imagine that the stools are all of different sizes. Taller people are given shorter stools, shorter individuals are given taller stools, and now everyone can successfully see over the fence. This is equity.
This is why men are needed in the celebration of International Women’s Day. In considering the case mentioned above, men have privileges that not all of us have. Men can use these privileges to help elevate, amplify, and challenge gender disparities at home, in the workplace, and in greater society. It’s very difficult to get a teeter-totter to rock by itself, but with two people equally balanced, they can create a lot of momentum, just as gender inclusion can.
Some simple steps men can take would be asking their company about gender wage gaps and ensuring that the starting wage for men and women is the same; taking on more parental duties at home; shutting down sexist comments; and questioning their internal thoughts and dialogue about gender. Continuous small steps turn into many large ones.
Embracing equity means creating spaces in which women are not only safe but can thrive and succeed, including those whose genders fall across the spectrum, women of colour, disabled women, homeless women, and others whose voices are often silenced. After all, gender inequality affects us all in different ways.
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