Do we need International Women’s Day to achieve Gender Equality?

By Bijan Shahrezaey

Today marks the 108th International Women’s Day and this year takes on a particularly interesting theme of gender equality

Since the first International Women’s Day took place in 1911, the 8th March has been marked in our calendars as a date to honour women’s achievements, celebrate contributions and renew our efforts in achieving gender equality.

Each year, there’s an overarching theme to International Women’s Day. The subject in 2007 focused on ending violence, while 2009 encompassed strong women and leadership. However, this year’s campaign takes on a particularly interesting topic of promoting a more-gender-balanced world – and rightly so. But, surely associating IWD with gender equality contradicts a balance?

The overarching theme of International Women’s Day 2019 is #BalanceForBetter, which aims to encourage gender balance in boardrooms, in the media and in wealth as a way for economies to thrive. However, as long as the need to support women’s place in society exists, gender equality cannot be fully achieved. Thus, the presence of IWD contradicts the solution to gender balance.

Now, considering how important professional balance and social equality are, we shouldn’t be limiting these efforts to a theme for a day that comes around once a year. In response to this, I think there should be a dedicated day to promote parity – ‘Gender Equality Day’ has a rather nice ring to it!

When it comes to International Women’s Day, we can all agree on its significance; even in today’s day and age. Hence, a recent YouGov poll discovered that one in three women feel the need to take regular steps to protect themselves from sexual assault. Though, on the contrary, we have also seen momentous progress in equality as time goes on – female leaders are a social norm and equality has spread across the globe. To put this in perspective, IWD is an official holiday in a number of countries including China, Montenegro, Russia and Zambia.

With that being said, we should continue to celebrate women’s contributions and honour their achievements, but when it comes to promoting gender equality, we should separate this from IWD efforts. This way, the importance of balance isn’t diluted, and the current issues facing women in society can be tackled, one step at a time.