Do we need IWD? – By Natasha Stone

So what is IWD? This year, the theme is #EachForEqual. With the website describing the aim of the day is:-

An equal world is an enabled world.

Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day.

We can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements.

Collectively, each one of us can help create a gender equal world.

Let’s all be #EachforEqual.

It’s about celebration, it’s about inclusion, and a call for us all to create an equal world. 100% of the world celebrating and supporting the 50% part of our world, wonderful!

So why, is there such a movement at the moment for standing against celebration? Why is there always a backlash of ‘what about ism?’ For example, imagine we’re having a celebration about apples being an amazing fruit – and then there’s a comment about ‘Why are you celebrating apples? What’s wrong with pears? That means you hate cherries… UGH YOU ALWAYS CAMPAIGN HATRED AGAINST CHERRIES.’ It sounds ridiculous, but the fact is, this is exactly the dialogue you see on social media every time there is some sort of empowerment or celebration.

Every IWD, it does give cause for amusement, but there’s a darker side to it too, Richard Herring always tweets as below on IWD, he has done for many years, and yet still, every year he has to continue the fight:-

And of course, aside from the humour of it, you can see in his replies, exactly the behaviour as described above. If this behaviour is targeted at 50% of the world’s population who are trying to celebrate achievements and be proud and happy of what they are – and yet met with this barrage of negativity. It’s exhausting in every way. Imagine just how harmful this attitude is when applied to other minority group celebrations. Black History Month, Pride, International Disabilities day. In a search of social media, which frankly becomes more and more alarming, comments on all of these celebrations are selfish and defamatory – and it just has to stop.

Even those who call out the behaviour get a torrent of abuse – the trolls continue, and there are cries of ‘just ignore the comments’ and ‘don’t add fuel to the fire’. But the problem here is that if these people who hide behind fake names and fake causes aren’t called out and reported, they continue to grow unchecked. There are no repercussions and there is no retribution for the harm that they do to others. And in some cases, there is no help or education given to those who quite clearly lack understanding or empathy to the true meaning behind the stances that they so vehemently oppose. Without education, how can we ever expect someone to change their views, and finally come to a position of acceptance.

We are all responsible for this. We are all role models to someone, whether we see that for ourselves, or not. You never know who is watching and looking to emulate what we say. We all find comfort in being part of a group, and looking up to our own role models, and look for leadership from those we respect. So we need to show strength and lead the way to acceptance. Be the change you want to see.

Have the strength to stand up for what you believe in, despite the odds and however powerful the adversary is who stands before you. That is my hope for the future. That there is acceptance and joy for these wonderful and diverse celebrations. That such days are no longer seen as threatening to certain sections of our society who assume their entitlement is more important than another’s.

So back to the original question, do we need IWD? Absolutely we do – as well as needing every other day of celebration throughout the year. We need to celebrate without shame and fear, and call out the insecure cries of ‘What about me? Pay attention to me!’ of the entitled few. If we stand up and celebrate the diversity of our many professions, and the differences that make us successful and fulfilled people, eventually the clamour of ‘what about me?’ will disappear into a low hum. Or even better, those whose insecurities caused them to crave attention to the detriment of others, might not feel the need to do that anymore.

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