Why I Didn’t Celebrate International Women’s Day

 

Let’s start by getting one thing very clear. I most certainly support the progress and equity of women across the globe. 

If you know me at all or have read anything of my online presence, I don’t have to tell you that championing the success, ability, and opportunity of women is what I’m all about. 

So you might think I ought to be excited about International Women’s Day. But if I’m very honest here, it infuriates me.

I’m angry.

International Women’s Day has, to me, become a performative experience that celebrates a win that hasn’t been won. 

It implies a conclusion to which we have not yet arrived. It encourages complacency and the return to blissful ignorance of issues that are not yet resolved. 

While I recognize we are winning battles worth celebrating, the by and large impression is that we’ve arrived. And that global impression is detrimental to the momentum we’ve achieved.

Disrespect.

My first wave of rage the morning of International Women’s Day, as I was reading the accolades all over social media, was toward the disrespect this communicates to women around the world who have not seen the shift we claim to have achieved. 

Women who are “kept” so firmly, their passions, abilities, geniuses, and opportunities never see the light of day. 

Women who live and die under the constant threat of violence and aggression. 

Women who work their asses off to push back on glass ceilings and gain the power they deserve in and out of the boardroom only to then be isolated, underpaid, and burned out with little to show for their private war. 

Disregard.

It would seem we are not aware of the amount of violence against women that is still “normal” to societies worldwide. 

The assumption is that an achieved increase of awareness has diminished its effects, but it’s not true. The numbers are not going down. According to research from UN Women, one in three women will experience physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives—a shocking statistic that demonstrates just how prevalent this problem really is.

We cannot imply that this problem is improving. We cannot just stop and have a picnic in the middle of the battleground when the war is still so violently raging around us.  

Distaste.

Can you imagine suffering with a debilitating disease and seeing the media shouting and celebrating that it’s been cured? 

Can you picture seeing the smiling faces of others who once suffered but are living free of the symptoms that drain the life out of you every day? 

Can you fathom how crushing it would be to see the world pat themselves on the back for a job well done when you are still crippled by the very disease they are claiming to have eradicated? 

We simply cannot celebrate what has not been achieved.

So, what do we do?

Women must look to each other for change. There is a critical need and role for networks of women to share, support, and advocate for the change they need, and allyship that values lived experience as expertise, and the understanding of the context in which women have to operate.

Women are coming together in community, creating meaningful connections that are more transformational than transactional. Together, we can channel frustration and shared experience into change.

Turn off the notifications, turn down the noise, and come together to meet and advance your needs, and lift the type of leadership that will become the new norm.

The theme of International Women’s Day is “embrace equity”, to which I say, HA!

Recognizing IWD will remain a performative experience until we take this into our own hands. If we don’t become weary and continue to shift the norm, we can and will achieve what it stands for. 

I look forward to and will continue to fight for the day we can celebrate International Women’s Day in truth.