Pink cupcakes won't save us

Every year on International Women’s Day, I find myself disengaged and wondering why. Is it my internalised sexism? Am I a lazy feminist? Is it the hollow feeling of a cupcake on an empty stomach?

By Amy Scott, Writer - Re

Mar 2021

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No one can deny that March 8 has become a landmark celebration in the corporate world. But interestingly, its origins stem back to the Socialist Party of America, who first declared Women’s Day in 1909. Even the date is to mark the day women gained suffrage in Soviet Russia in 1917.

I am not a communist, nor am I a socialist, but I am a feminist. I know International Women’s Day was created for me, but I can’t help but feel that March 8 has become Groundhog Day.

A day of business breakfasts in impeccably-lit boardrooms with an impressive panel of speakers who’ve done their part for women everywhere. We’ll talk about the pay gap, and the lack of women in the ASX200, then we’ll toast to our achievements and go back to our well-paying – yet admittedly lower-paying – day jobs until next year’s breakfast.

To be clear, I’m not saying these issues aren’t important. They absolutely are. But for me, the focus of International Women’s Day has become too narrow. It has lost its revolutionary spirit.

Looking to the future with positivity about how far we’ve come is admirable, but not if it overshadows darker truths about the systemic issues women still face. Issues in Australia like the disproportionate imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, or our safety in the workplace, even in the very halls of power that were designed to protect us.

This week we’ll be sharing some actions and issues that look at International Women’s Day from a different perspective, in the hopes of making steps towards change for women everywhere.

In the words of our client Michelle Higelin, Executive Director of ActionAid Australia: “We can start at home, but we must not stop here.”

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