Resetting the clock (and me) on international women’s day

A pocket watch in a person's open hand. Original public domain image from Wikimedia Commons

The clock has ticked over, it is 1am and it is no longer International Women’s Day. “I’m late, I’m late, I’m late,” says the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland (the song from the Disney movie version is a real ear-worm, so I’m very sorry in advance if you can’t get that out of your head now).

In university a friend of mine and I would remind each other repeatedly “it’s never too late” to stop ourselves from feeling defeated when, yet again, we were cramming the night before an exam or essay was due, not sleeping and hating ourselves for inflicting this pain upon ourselves, EVERY SINGLE TIME, despite knowing better.

And with this in mind, I’m ignoring the White Rabbit, invoking my old university motto and saying yes the clock has ticked over and I’m late, but it’s fine. It’s fine (do you believe me?). Also it’s still Tuesday in the Americas.

I wished some friends “Happy Internationl Women’s Day” – because yes, I’m too lazy to write out the full word in a message – but felt slightly odd doing so. Because it sometimes feels like a false celebration. On the one hand, it is important to recognise and support the achievements and progress for and of women and the feminist movement. But it also sometimes feels disingenuous when corporate culture post glowing “HAPPY WOMEN’S DAY” posts on social media, hiding the fact that they don’t necessarily have the best track record for women in their companies.

A friend replied with the Twitter Gender pay gap bot that is currently trending. It says in its Twitter bio: “Employers, if you tweet about International Women’s Day, I’ll retweet your gender pay gap”. I highly approve of this and a huge thank you to its creators – just to note, sometimes women’s pay is higher and this is also captured by the bot – because it is both hilarious and enlightening.

Today, in between trying to say yay for women and their achievements, I’ve been reflecting on how terrible the world can be. While the big one is the conflict in Ukraine, it’s not the only conflict affected place in the world. In Australia, flooding has laid waste to many parts of New South Wales and Queensland. Energy prices are rising in the UK and many households are or will soon be worse off. Plus all the inequalities and unfairnesses that life throws at some but not others. There’s so much bad news that for the first time in a long while Covid doesn’t seem to be trending in the news.

It could be that I’m particularly pessimistic because it is nearing 2am and instead of sleeping I’m writing this. But right now I don’t know if I have the energy to celebrate achievements, no matter how great. Because it feels like the world isn’t improving fast enough to make up for all of the challenges.

Before I descend into the abyss, I’m going to consciously pull myself back and conclude with this one really good thing I’ve read today, an article by Nyadol Nyuon, a lawyer and human rights advocate in Australia, entitled ‘I’m proof that investing in women has a lasting, positive impact on society.’ It is a wonderful read (if you read nothing else, read it) and a reminder that working towards equality is slow but worthwhile. She asks:

“Can you imagine, as we are invited to do this International Women’s Day on Tuesday, what could be achieved in a gender-equal world, free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination? A world that is diverse, equitable and inclusive?”

Yes, yes I can.

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Radix is the radical centre think tank. We welcome all contributions which promote system change, challenge established notions and re-imagine our societies. The views expressed here are those of the individual contributor and not necessarily shared by Radix.

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