Wednesday 8 March 2017 9:05 am
International Women’s Day 2017: Why the women’s strike won’t change a misogynist’s mind
Today is International Women’s Day. The organisers of the Women’s March on 21 January, which aimed to stand up against misogyny, sexism and, well, Trump, have invited women worldwide to strike. ‘A Day without a Woman’ will apparently emphasise the value of women. But who are these so-called organisers and what gives them the right to represent me or you, aside from not having male chromosomes?
Some might say that this is just a group of privileged urbanites who will protest anything that doesn't fit with their world-view. On the other hand, I fully support the right to peaceful protests and lawful strikes which can, and do, raise awareness for causes and fight injustices.
However, this particular strike will not change the sexist and misogynistic views held by a shrinking but persistent minority in society.
If you’re thinking of joining the women’s strike, I respectfully request that you think again: joining a parade, waving a placard and paying lip service is all too easy. But protests by the 'usual suspects' won’t change a misogynist’s mind one iota. They won’t be watching with bated breath, on the verge of the collective epiphany that women are of equal value.
If we, as women, want to change something we need a more thoughtful and systematic approach. These entrenched views can only be combated by smart, hard-working women who continue to break conventions, marginalise divisive stereotyping and fight for absolute equality both at home and in the work-place.
I can’t stress enough how important the right culture of equality and diversity is for businesses. Whether you’re an intern or the chief executive, this is where we can all effect significant change in the ‘real world’. Whilst leadership teams can set the tone it’s up to everybody to build a positive environment where people can thrive irrespective of gender, race or social background. When diversity and equality permeate throughout an organisation, those ideals flow through its arteries and veins to all levels, and beyond its boundaries to industry peers and organisations.
Outside the office, we as mothers should be teaching our sons about the importance of equality; as friends, sisters, or daughters we should demonstrate how an equal society should function – not simply protesting what we currently have.
None of that hard work can be done at this women’s strike. We need to be in the real world, inspiring change with our presence rather than antagonising others or alienating ourselves from the world we’re trying to change. Along with millions of other hard working women, I will be getting on with the task at work today and I urge you to do the same.