International Women’s Day is upon us, and this is the year we #ChooseToChallenge.
On the 8th of March, the achievements of women are honoured, and we focus on how we achieve gender equality. Since the days beginnings in the early 1900’s, women, and their allies, have taken to the streets to march, protest, and fight for the rights that are so easily handed to their male counterparts. International Women’s Day is a day for reflection, celebration, and to push for change.
This year, the theme for International Women’s Day is #ChooseToChallenge, an initiative that aims to encourage people to challenge gender biases and inequality when they encounter them. If we all sit ideally by and watch injustice happen, the world will never change. If we #ChooseToChallenge, then we help create an inclusive world for everyone.
I have been thinking about some of the situations that I have seen and/or been in where I should have challenged the gender bias taking place. These are just 3 out of, quite literally, hundreds of those situations.
The job and gender assumption
When I’m not baking, I work as a digital marketing associate. A big part of my job is to engage with customers on social media and answer any questions. Despite then not being able to see my name when I answer messages, 9 times out of 10 I will be addressed as ‘Sir’. As if it would be impossible to fathom that a woman would be capable of answering their questions. It would be only too easy to excuse this behaviour by saying that the customers don’t know who they are talking to, but why is the automatic assumption that the person in charge is a man? As of June 2020, 72.6% of women aged 16-64 were employed. As well as this, nobody should be assuming another persons gender, regardless of whether there is a name attached.
In January, I published an article about period poverty in the UK. As I researched and spoke to multiple women about the topic, I realised how bad the issue is. Women and young girls in the UK, which is the 6th richest country in the world, are missing out on school and work, using insufficient materials to replace sanitary products, and even suffering from toxic shock syndrome from leaving tampons in for too long. Part of the issue is due to not being able to afford sanitary products, however, the root of the problem is the taboo that surrounds periods. It’s time that we all help move towards closing the period poverty gap. We need to de-stigmatise periods, teach children, of all genders, about the menstrual cycle, and put menstrual products in food banks. It’s EVERYONE’s responsibility to eliminate period poverty.
“I like a natural looking girl”
Recently, I have been watching Teen First Dates- lockdown boredom is getting real now. I realised that, pretty much all of, the heterosexual boys were saying that they were after a “natural looking girl.” What constitutes a “natural looking girl?” Is it a girl that doesn’t wear makeup? That turns up to a date wearing PJ’s? Who wouldn’t dare shove her feet into nail-like stilettos? Women and girls are bombarded with media representation, mostly headed by men, dictating what beauty is. Each time the beauty trend changes, they try painstakingly hard to fit that mould. So, I would like to know exactly what a “natural looking girl” is. To me, it seems like it’s just the latest trend and so a “natural looking girl” still means someone who wears make-up, does their hair, and wears a nice outfit. It just doesn’t mean lip fillers and cosmetic surgery anymore. At the end of the day, it is nobody’s place to challenge or comment on how another person looks, even if they aren’t “natural”.
There are so many gender biases and inequalities that we should be challenging. It’s time we start doing so. #ChooseToChallenge.