International Women’s Day 2021.
Theme: Choose to Challenge
Thoughts from Alice, Assistant Branch Secretary and Equality Coordinator
1) The reduction of women to their reproductive ability.
Women are amazing, diverse and beautifully complex. Giving birth/ having a child is NOT ‘the initiation to womanhood’. The choice to have children or not is as valid a life choice as any other. Do we hound men on when they are going to have children or chastise them if they decide it isn’t for them? No, so why is it still happening to women. A women is exactly what ever she wants to be, and it is not for anyone to say otherwise or judge their life choices. Also not everyone has the luxury of choice, some can’t have children, others have children forced upon them. Navigating in a world where so much emphasis is placed on women having children can be soul destroying for those whom it is not a choice. Remember that before you ask someone when are they going to have kids, take a pause and ask something different.
2) Tokenistic and performative ‘action’
Aka organisations that don’t take genuine action beyond pretty social media posts or IWD2021 discount codes. Or worse, saying you are rolling out opportunity for women but in reality, this happens only on history months or awareness days. I don’t want to see space for women just reserved for the day of the year where it’s acceptable for women to be given a seat at the table. Many simply preach ‘be kind, listen to others’ in one instance, but continually but subtly tear down, disempower and devalue women’s worth and experience in another. It is so prevalent in our society that we allow those in privileged positions to dictate what acceptable expression should look like. The sad fact remains that if you take up too much space, are too different or too loud, you don’t fit into that bracket.
The double standards are still entrenched in our society, where fundamentally nothing will change till oppression, inequality and lack of inclusion are no longer seen as ‘unfortunate but someone else’s problem to fix.’
It’s not a once a year issue, it’s an all year issue, it’s not a them issue, it’s an us issue, end of.
3) Feminism that isn’t inclusive or representative. If it isn’t empowering everyone, it isn’t it.
‘Nobody is free until everybody is free. Fannie Lou Hamer.’
A lot of the issues mentioned in point 2) aren’t unique to women, they are also the same experience or similar for other marginalised groups. If you don’t recognise the whole problem and everyone’s experience. When trying to drive equal or increased representation for women you could be at risk of further reducing representation and adding to the marginalisation and oppression of others. It’s about striving to improve for all those under represented rather than at the expense of. As a feminist I advocate for equality for all, not just the people who look like you/ face the same barriers.