Women Tell Us Why We Need International Women’s Day Now More Than Ever

Today (Wednesday March 8) is International Women’s Day, and while the campaign started out as a day to highlight the everyday gender disparities and discrimination women face, somewhere along the way, it became a commercialised gimmick used by companies to promote their own agenda.

With the overturning of Roe v Wade, the looming gender pay gap, the ongoing attacks on transwomen, the war on girls’ education and the senseless threat on women’s lives for simply doing the most basic everyday tasks out and about, women’s rights are under threat now more than ever.

And while it may seem like this day has turned into a commercialised celebration for companies to pat their own backs without bringing about actual change, celebrating International Women’s Day is important now more than ever.

We asked women why they think it is still important to celebrate today, and the responses will reaffirm your belief in the very heart of this cause.

“To raise awareness. To show progress. To remind everyone of how important and essential gender parity is. To stand up for those who can’t stand or speak for themselves. To reflect on the inequalities which exist in the world. To find gratitude. To acknowledge & stay accountable,” says Sonya Barlow.

It is also an opportunity for us to acknowledge the remarkable women like Florence Nightingale, Marie Curie and more who paved the way for our present and future, says Rae Radford.

Valentina Milanova, founder of Daye, highlights the impact the pandemic has had on bringing gender inequality to light, and why it is still important for us to celebrate Women’s Day.

“Women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, both in terms of their health and well-being and their economic and social status. The pandemic has also exacerbated existing inequalities and created new ones, such as the increased burden of unpaid care work on women and AFAB (assigned female at birth) individuals,” she explains.

Professor Beverley Gibbs, chief academic officer at NMITE says that International Women’s Day can be used to highlight the severe lack of education for women and girls.

“International Women’s Day has actually never been more important, and the issues it brings into focus cannot be trivialised.Millions of women and girls across the world are excluded from secondary and university education and across sectors and levels of seniority, women are denied access to influential and fulfilling jobs and fair pay,” she says.

This day is also used to highlight the gender parity in venture capitalist firms and women-run businesses. As Martha Keith, founder of Martha Brook reveals how only 1% of UK venture capital investment currently goes to female founder teams. In contrast, a whopping 89% goes to all-men founder teams, and the rest goes to the co-ed teams.

“Although we have made progress, men still dominate positions of leadership and decision making, whether that’s as CEOs of large organisations or as heads of states or government. Women are also still expected to pick up the majority of unpaid work, such as housework and care work. Days like International Women’s Day provide a talking point for these issues,” she says.

Women’s Day is also important to highlight issues with equitable practices in the workplace, says Abi Adamson, founder of The Diversity Partnership, as the pendulum still swings heavily in favour of men.

“Women still experience an alarming level of bias, exclusion and discrimination and many still fear the consequences of simply identifying as a woman. Fairness will continue to be a challenge for women to reach unless gender parity is put centre stage and inclusion is treated not as a buzzword or a campaign, but as a fundamental value,” she says.

Of course, we should be celebrating, championing and actively working towards the betterment of women’s rights everyday, and not just on International Women’s Day, it is important to still have this day to highlight just how severe the problem is every year, and also reflect on how far we’ve come.

Women’s rights are in grave danger all over the world. International Women’s Day is a tool to highlight those issues on a global platform. And while this day has started becoming increasingly commercialised with performative stunts by companies for their own profit, it is important to remember why we celebrate this day in the first place.

And that while we have a designated ‘day’ to celebrate women, it should be a daily, conscious choice to champion the rights of women and everyone who identifies as one in every sector of the world.