What Is the Point of International Women’s Day?
Today is International Women’s Day.
I realized that I don’t really know what that means. Is it a day of celebration of the accomplishments of great women? A day of awareness? A day to protest and petition for something?
What’s the point of it? Is it supposed to make me feel empowered?
In general, I am not a “rah-rah girl” — but my intent here is not to critique. I’m legit asking because I am confused about the point of the day. It sounds in theory like something I’d want to get behind. After all, I’m a woman. Why not celebrate a day for women. But I don’t get behind anything unless I “get it.” And I’m not really getting this.
On the website for International Women’s Day, I read a few things to get more context.
International Women’s Day Mission
“Mission” seemed like a good place to start. Instead of one overarching mission, the website offers missions for several categories:
- Women in Tech
- Women and Sport
- Women at Work
- Women Entrepreneurs
- Women’s Health
- Women Creatives
Certainly all places where we should continue to push for equality and equal treatment.
Who Is Left Out
But what about Women at Home?
What about women who choose to raise families and be in service to their children and their communities but who aren’t in the workplace?
What about women in service in the shadows, the industries most often dominated by women but that exist in the shadows? Housekeepers and maids. Building cleaners. The women who clean the bathrooms at convention centers and sports arenas. Nannies. Caregivers.
Where is the International Women’s Day mission for these women? Don’t they deserve to be treated equally? To be counted and have their contribution to our economy counted? Don’t they deserve to be seen?
Or are we only striving for equality for the women in the boardroom and in the office?
When we talk about equality for women, what we are often really promoting is equality for women who conform to the masculine archetypes: driving, striving, hustling, working long hours, proving that we can go toe-to-toe with the men.
Where is the mission for women who choose lead, work, and live from their feminine energy? We see few models of women entrepreneurs and executives who find success by being heart-leaders rather than thought-leaders, by embracing compassion and collaboration rather than competition?
An article on the site stated that
the two major barriers for women not maintaining a healthy lifestyle are lack of time and the deprioritizing of their own wellbeing.
In other places the site promoted leaning in and stepping up.
What about women who lean out and step back to take care of their own well-being and their health?
International Women’s Day 2020 Theme
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #EachforEqual. Yes. Like that, with the hashtag already included. (Remember when hashtags arose organically?)
Despite a full page devoted to explaining this theme, I have no clear sense of what it means, beyond an agenda for gender equality. So is that the point of International Women’s Day?
The website says that
EachforEqual is about “Collective Individualism”
I’m not sure if that’s supposed to clear things up.
According to the website:
We are all parts of a whole. Our individual actions, conversations, behaviors, and mindsets can have an impact on our larger society.
Collectively, we can make change happen. Collectively, we can each help to create a gender equal world.
The Real Challenge For Women
Yes, these are great sentiments and truths. But that’s not about individualism. It’s about oneness. We are all parts of a whole. And I suppose the problem I have with these missions and the theme and maybe the very concept of International Women’s Day and events like the women’s march, is that they tend to divide and rank, imposing hierarchies rather than bringing women together.
How can we strive for equality when we carve a mission up into six areas, which don’t even encompass all women?
The real challenge for women is not in finding equality with men, but in first finding unity within.
We are all the same. I am another you. You are another me.
The struggle of women in the workplace is no more significant than the struggle of the women who choose to leave the workplace to care for their families or other families. In fact, one cannot exist without the other. The women who clean the bathrooms make it possible for the women in the boardrooms to do their work.
The challenges of the single mom and the single and child-free women may be different, but one is not more significant than the other.
Equality is predicated on the notion of having at least two different groups. When we truly reach the belief of oneness, the need for “equality” disappears.
Maybe this is all part of the intent. If so, then this is just an issue of marketing and crafting a more coherent mission and vision.
If the goal is to promote equality, than a mission that unifies and unites will be more productive than one that divides and differentiates.