Here are the top 5 reasons we still need Women’s Day & Month:
(Preface- The extraordinary injustices women face from abuse, rape, economic alienation, sexual/spiritual/health oppression and so many more tragedies can be dealt with if we address the following 5 root causes.)
1. Pen Names (Biases)- J.K. Rowling, E.L James & Others still use Pen Names because society still has unfavorable bias towards women authors. I use this example because it’s emblematic of much larger issues across society. This type of bias that favors men has its roots in patriarchy. And, by elevating the awareness of these type of biases, we can re-engineer consciousness towards the subtle but devastating ways women face crippling social and professional barriers. Most people, male and female are oblivious of these existing inequalities.
2. Social & Career Design- Women were excluded from participating in the design of Modern Democracy- this led to a system that favors men as figure heads and leaders. The historical references (printed/published) overwhelmingly lift men over women, which leads to more bias in our education systems, art and other key community spheres. These critical sectors of society are like engineering mechanisms that move us forward without us realizing it. The running of Institutions like religion and schools must be challenged and redesigned in order to reframe social biases that lead to female oppression/abuse/neglect.
3. Policy & Research Reporting- We must evolve and develop new policy and new research that speaks to women’s growing needs. The policies for issues such as maternity leave were largely designed by men and in most cases, do not speak to the modern career woman. Sharing and building on new research can be boldly launched and shared during women’s month to advance the gender equality cause. Punishment for injustices like rape and how these injustices are viewed and primarily designed by men which is one of the reasons it’s difficult for women to speak out and experience fair treatment in our legal system.
4. Pioneer Acknowledgement and Learning- From the Women who Marched in 1956 to the early suffragette (voting rights movement) to all the women continuing to break the glass ceiling (and there are many more that haven’t been broken- particularly in leadership) these women must be acknowledged and celebrated as well learn from them. We should also learn from the successes and failures of women broadly in our current society to ensure we heave healthier and richer dialogue about moving society forward.
5. Property, Land & other Wealth pillars- For thousands of years, men were the only ones who could inherit land, manage and deal with property. The legacy of this inter-generational wealth transfer left women without the ability to build systems to ensure their independence from men (creating ‘choice’) on a broad level. Sure, there are many educated and wealthy women, but the majority of women across, not just SA, but the world are reliant on males for their survival. Creating property, land and other civil policies that address the historical biases is critical to balance the playing field for the majority of women, especially those in rural areas and outside the formal economy.
Finally, celebrating is certainly insufficient- we must Integrate the learning from all the women’s organizations, create healthier dialogue, set policy/education/community goals- that all align to a women’s rights ecosystem that deals directly with all the injustices women face. The work is done all year- but Women’s Month can be the month we elevate the conversation to ensure women’s rights remains high on the global agenda… If we are focused and sincere- a world where women and men have equality opportunity is possible.