Get Uncomfortable: Wellbeing and International Women’s Day
If you have been on social media in the last year, you will have been witness to the rise of anti-feminist influencers online. Unfortunately, the popularity of these influencers has served as an opportunity for the rapid rise of hate towards women online. As a woman of colour who is part of the gen-z community, I am all too aware that this rhetoric has broken out of the virtual space and into the conversations of people you may even know. Whilst many of us will be quick to assume that the people we choose to surround ourselves with would not buy into this propaganda, many people have been influenced by words of so-called anti-feminist ‘activists’.
With the rapid rise of this form of sexism in our society, International Women’s Day serves as a call to action: to accelerate the movement towards genuine gender equality.
International Women’s Day 2023
In 2023, the campaign for International Women’s Day is #EmbraceEquity. To achieve the equal treatment of individuals in society, equity must first be reached. To put it simply, equity is the appropriate allocation of resources and support to people who are disadvantaged in society. Whilst some people believe that providing opportunities and support to minorities simply ‘takes away opportunities from those who are not disadvantaged’, equitable action provides the opportunity to erase the power imbalance between privileged individuals (e.g., cisgender people, white people, heterosexuals, males) and minorities. Although some individuals may receive more help than others, the varied amounts of support given to individuals creates an equal playing field for all individuals in society.
As a woman of colour, my mental wellbeing has been largely affected by my experience of gendered discrimination and racism in society. However, my awareness that my female peers endure the same, if not more severe struggles, continues to worsen my own wellbeing. I believe that to move towards a true state of equality, everyone must become allies to women. Although it may seem that I am directing this call to men, women in privileged positions must support their female peers who face further inequalities due to their gender identity, race, sexuality, ability, or socio-economic status. This conversation is for all of us. If we all work together, we can make a change.
Ways To Be a Successful Ally:
Support ALL Women
First and foremost, it is essential to recognise that some women experience different types of discrimination alongside sexism. For example, a woman of colour may not only experience sexism, but may also face racism. A queer woman may simultaneously experience sexism and homophobia. A transgender woman may experience sexism and discrimination against her gender identity. We can use our awareness of the intertwined nature of sexism with other forms of discrimination to support and uplift all women. We cannot exclude any women from receiving our support. Solidarity is important. Illustration of five people sitting on chairs having a conversation.
Talk with and listen to women
To support all women, women must be given the opportunity to be heard. The creation of safe spaces where conversations can occur must be supported by everyone. Allowing various demographics of women to have candid conversations about their experience as a woman in society will enlighten, rather than teach, people of more privilege. In turn, individuals must use their privilege to educate others about these experiences. Women cannot solve the discrimination they face alone. To ensure equity, we must all work together talk with, listen to, and support all women. Awareness about the patriarchy and sexism will produce action.
If you are aware of the privileges you may hold in society, use them to champion women. Use your understanding of women’s experiences to prompt the support and mentoring of disadvantaged women. Your support and advocacy for these women will help them achieve their true potential inside and out of the workplace. Creating a standard of supportive allyship will move our society towards a true state of equality. To get started, you can choose to do this within your role at work with your colleagues or join your local women’s network. Use your position at work to uplift and support your female colleagues.
Call out discrimination
Like myself, many people have witnessed sexism disguised as casual conversation, or even jokes. If you feel safe to do so, call out and identify discrimination as it happens. Use your privilege to not only defend women, but to also combat the use of sexist rhetoric in society. Fighting against discrimination not only makes women feel heard and supported, but also creates a zero-tolerance policy towards sexism and harassment in society.
Whilst privilege is an indicator of a broken system, the first steps to equity is to utilise your advantage to support others. The act of supporting, listening to, and championing all women begins to undo the structures of discrimination that affect them. The move to equality in society is a group effort, a choice of solidarity. To undo the system, you must get uncomfortable. Allyship can begin with a simple conversation.