Today is International Women’s Day (IWD) – a day to reflect over why, in 2022, we still need to earmark a day to highlight a fundamental gender inequality issue affecting the lives, health, opportunities, and influence of roughly 50 percent of the global population, while our thoughts are with the millions of Ukrainian women (and children) forced into a mass exodus.
As a “male” it would be easy to just “celebrate” International Women’s Day (IWD) with a few passing superlatives about the women in our personal and professional lives. And whilst true and well deserved, it would be a disservice if we, at the same time, do not actively strive to bridge the gender equality gap in our homes, our schools, our businesses and workplaces, our academic, cultural, judicial, medical and political institutions, and our societies.
In short, every day should be a woman’s day just as much as it is a man’s day, in a gender-equal world. Sadly, the reality is that in 2022, the gender equality disparity ranges from subtle institutional to medieval oppressive with horrors such as so-called “honour killings” and female genital mutilation (FGM) still widely held and practiced.
That is why, as a person who believes that everyone should receive equal treatment and not be discriminated against based on their gender (or anything else for that matter), it is important to celebrate International Women’s Day by recognizing the accomplishments of women everywhere while advocating for gender equality.
The unfolding tragedy in Ukraine highlights another heart-wrenching burden that afflicts women forced to flee into exile and uncertainty, in this case on account of a man’s despotic patriarchal illusions of territorial grandeur.
Those women (and men) who dare defy draconian laws in Belarus and Russia by challenging the state-sanctioned propaganda or attempt to voice their condemnation of this unwarranted and illegitimate invasion of a sibling nation face a brutal and equally uncertain fate.
As is so often the case in armed conflicts, it is the women that are made to bid farewell to fathers, husbands, and sons and it is they that will be left to pick up the pieces of shattered lives once hostilities have subsided.
It begs the question of having a more gender-equal world, not least in positions of power, would ultimately lead to a safer, less aggressive, and confrontational one?
Given where the IPCC suggests that we with our resource-constrained world may be headed as a result of climate change, then a better balance between testosterone and estrogen in decision-making across our societies would seem not only a moral issue but one our long-term survival may ultimately depend on.