International Women’s Day 2023 – Who are we celebrating?
International Women’s Day 2023 – Who are we celebrating?
International Women’s Day. The day, that like Christmas, rolls around once a year, and you are either pleasantly surprised by the fact you didn’t have to be the person organizing the catering at your own event; or like getting socks and undies on Christmas, you are once again gifted the gift of “ignorance is bliss” by co-workers who believe having a middle-aged white man as the keynote speaker at IWD suffices.
IWD is a mixed bag. In some ways I feel proud we can even hold such events, talk about such topics and go about our lives relatively unphased about the original 1960’s rules of quitting your job once you got married. On the other hand, talking isn’t enough, and we aren’t doing the doing, so sometimes IWD still feels like a stagnant day for a cause society has no intentions on improving.
As a woman who was raised in a home where being resilient and independent were what the foundations of everything else in life were built on, I often found myself being the minority in life. I never thought of myself as special because I was a female, or because I wanted to work in certain industries and do certain things with my life. I considered myself a human being who wanted experiences and independence.
I applied for jobs because I liked the job description, and I treated people how they treated me. Equality wasn’t a word commonly in my vocabulary until 20-year-old (and very naive me) woke up and smelled the roses. If you haven’t listened to our FIFO podcast yet we highly recommend that you do. It is a two-part series and will go into more depth on the inequalities we faced as women in the resource industry.
International Women’s Day to me represents a society highlighting what needs to improve but is too scared of change to make those improvements. In 2023 we have come leaps and bounds when it comes to accepting people for who they are and whatever their beliefs may be, but maybe we have run before we could walk?
Today on LinkedIn, it was the first IWD where I saw women standing up and speaking up about their poor experiences in the workplace, rather than posting the usual social media post about how great IWD is. A few things stood out to me today, and I think all of these things have collided in my mind and made me see how much work we still have to do around IWD, and what the actual meaning of it is.
On a LinkedIn post today, a woman posted a screenshot of a series of texts between her and a female co-worker. They made sarcastic jokes (obviously feeling deflated) that the keynote speaker for their IWD event at work, was the same man that 6 months prior has sexually assaulted one of them, and no disciplinary action was taken despite her best efforts. Imagine that. A world where the advocacy speaker is also assaulting the attendees.
Today a friend of mine was doing her return-to-work meetings when she was casually introduced, and the phrase “she could’ve been great” was used to describe her work ethic. This woman gave life (TWICE!), earned a degree, worked, and balanced being a present mother. Raised (probably) who is going to be the next prime minister of Australia, and still managed to make a fresh cooked meal for the entire household EVERYDAY.
This week a member of my friend group struggled with boundaries from family. Surprisingly, an older woman, who shamed her and expressed what a neglectful mother she was going to be if she returned to work while also trying to parent.
“How will you spend quality time with your husband and baby if you’re working?” she said.
This month I watched a girlfriend struggle (yet again) in the corporate world. Starting early and finishing late, sacrificing quality family / home time with her partner, because she knows tomorrow, she’ll be buried in her work if she doesn’t. This same friend works for a company who happily cancelled their International Women’s Day event, because it didn’t fit in with the managers meeting schedule.
We do all of the above PLUS more, and yet we still live in a society where your worth is based on the amount of money you make, or the car you drive, or how much you "grind" on the daily.
If as a man, you can read the above paragraph and still think to yourself, "yeah and?". You are part of the problem.
Effort goes a long way when it comes to equality in the workplace and the household, and we need everyone onboard having the necessary conversations. Cupcakes don't solve this one.
I found myself questioning what it meant to be a woman this week.
What does it mean to be equal?
How do I feel whole and “equal” when I don’t get paid the same in the job I work in?
How do I feel “equal” when my workplace shows no positive examples of women in leadership?
Why are we still settling for some fucking cupcakes and a keynote speaker, when we can literally hold down a career and excel in in it. Hold down a household and keep track of a very messy family calendar, and achieve any qualification or goal we stick our minds to. All whilst simultaneously riding the wave of navigating Karen’s 1950’s parenting tips and tricks, and not letting down the managers at work…. All of which are men who hold none of the above responsibilities and will never understand the mental load.
We can do so much! Yet still in this day and age, we are settling for the bare minimum.
I encourage all women today (and everyday) to take some time to self-reflect. To find the things you are proud of. Motherhood, your career, your ability to be resilient, your studies…whatever it is.
You deserve more than a quick thankyou at a routine meeting from old mate bob the CEO, despite the fact he wouldn’t know how to convert his PDFs without your “womanly touch”.
You deserve that annual bonus you would usually get, but have given up to raise a family; despite the fact you now work double hours and put up with triple the amount of shit and crying.
We often get asked via our question boxes on Girls Unhinged, what advice do you have for women wanting to do “X, Y, Z” job? And that is the easy stuff to answer. One thing I have found myself asking lately, is what advice do I have for women who don’t face any issues throughout their career when it comes in inequality. Let’s face it. There are women who never face the battles of inequality in their lives, what can they do?
My advice to you. Don’t stop being a woman.
Sounds silly, doesn’t it?
But it isn’t.
Don’t stop being unique, interesting, empowering and inclusive just because you have reached the top.
Don’t conform and become part of the problem, or part of the men’s club when you finally find yourself smashing your career aspirations.
Never stop advocating for those below you, next to you or above you, because no matter what, we are all in this fight for equality together. We need you.
To summarise, I find myself reflecting on the women in my life. Even the ones I haven’t met yet, and are probably my biggest hype girls on social media, and who I openly confide in.
Women are magical. We are messy, chaotic, resourceful, adaptable, and strong. We are also more vulnerable than ever, fighting for equality and recognition for our progress in society to date.
I’m lucky to have such a variety of women in my corner, who I often consider my family. These women have gotten me through grief, death, love, transitions, self-doubt and more.
Recently while going through some hard times, a friend said to me. “It doesn’t matter what you’re going through, if it hurts you, it’s the same to me”, it was in response to me comparing what she was going through VS what I was going through and that my situation wasn’t that bad.
These are the type of women you need in your life, because let me tell you, when International Women’s Day is constantly overshadowed by “what about men’s day?” and “it's not all men” and “we are basically equal, its 2023”; you need your own special type of hype girls to celebrate life’s highs (and lows) with.
I am so glad I have mine.
I hope Girls Unhinged can be yours.
Happy International Women’s Day. Don’t ice any fucking cakes, or setup any events this week boo. They are supposed to be celebrating you.
Don't ever stop being a woman.