Will you #BreakTheBias?
International Women’s Day is celebrated every year on the 8th of March.
Organizations arrange sessions for their female workforce. Brands offer special discounts. Women-centric movies are screened. Motivational speeches are aired. The day comes, and the day goes.
We have a long way to go but look how far we’ve come. Through our continuous struggle and determination, we have achieved so much. Now imagine a world with equal opportunities, with no discrimination, with no roadblocks. Imagine all that we can achieve in a world like that. To make this dream a reality, we must all work together.
Here are a few things you can do this women’s day to #BreakTheBias.
1. Call out gender discrimination and stereotypes.
Whether you are a woman experiencing it or a bystander seeing other people suffer at the hands of systemic discrimination and stereotyping, USE YOUR VOICE.
The only way to bring about a change is to speak up and speak up loudly till you are heard. Gone are the days when women could be ignored, when their achievements could be stolen, or their efforts overshadowed. Don’t let anybody tell you what you can or cannot do. If you see something, say something.
‘You’re a bad driver because you’re a woman.’
‘If you’re at work all day, who will take care of the house?’
‘Engineering? That’s not for women.’
‘Choose an easier degree, women can’t excel in STEM.’
‘She can’t be a leader; women are too emotional.’
Whether you’re a woman at the receiving end of these remarks, a mere observer or the one making these remarks, it is time to #BreakTheBias.
2. Build a support community.
I’m a strong believer in the power of community.
A community of strong women who come together to support and uplift each other is a force to be reckoned with. Nobody else can understand our struggles and challenges the way we can because unfortunately, we have all experienced them in one form or another at some point in our lives. These shared experiences bring us closer and make us stronger.
It is more important now than ever to band together as we embark on this journey of getting our fair share in the world.
3. Learn and unlearn.
It is important to be self-aware and introspective in order to let go of internal biases.
A bias that exists within the society stems from individual biases and to bring about a change in the collective mindset of the society, it is important to reflect on our behavior, tone and language.
For instance, even girls from the most progressive families in South Asia don’t go back to work after getting married or giving birth because they inherently adopt the role of a dutiful wife and mother as they have seen the other women in their family do. Even if it’s not opposition per se, the lack of support from the members of the family helps solidify this belief even further.
It's time to ask ourselves whether we’re making these decisions out of our own free will or whether there are based on our internal thought process stemming from societal pressures?
If it’s the latter, what can we do to break out of this cycle?
Asking these questions is the first step on the right path.
4. Educate yourself.
There are so many women-centric initiatives not only during the month of March but all around the year.
From networks to conferences to mentoring programs, there are many ways in which you can get involved in the movement and contribute to making the world a better and safer place for women of today and tomorrow.
At the same time, we must stand tall against the notions and practices that caused suffering to the women of yesterday.
Read about what is happening in your country and your area and see how you can take part.
You might think it doesn’t make a difference but every step we take to support women takes us a step closer to the end goal: EQUALITY.
5. Influence your circle
Change starts at home.
If you see a friend or family member say a sexist remark in a casual conversation, speak up. It is difficult but important to start these conversations at home.
Parents play a huge role in the lives of their children, by raising women who are aware of their rights and are brave enough to fight for them and by raising men who respect women and become responsible members of society.
An increasingly digital world has given us access to global platforms and with that the opportunity to reach out to people far and wide.
However, it is important to start at home.
If through these discussions, we can help someone recognize and correct their problematic behavior, that’s a big win that can have a ripple effect.
6. Equal opportunities at the workplace.
Organizations and companies need to step up. It is heartening to see the focus on diversity and inclusion within the workplace.
Women-centric recruitment drives to achieve a balance in the gender ratio are one end, more effort needs to be put in to make sure that this is not just a number.
There is a need to recognize and address the discrimination at workplaces and effort needs to be done to rectify this to maintain an environment conducive to growth regardless of gender and solely based on hard work and commitment.
Fields like engineering are predominantly male not for lack of interested women but an innate bias against them entering these fields which also hinders the growth of those who do take up such roles.
Let’s make sure that we don’t just hire women engineers but provide them with the right environment to excel.
More than just women.
This International Women’s Day let's pledge to not only support women but all minorities who are discriminated against.
Let us pledge to make this world more accepting and inclusive for all humans.
Let us celebrate talent and achievements regardless of gender.
Together, we can build a peaceful world where everyone enjoys equal rights and equal opportunities.
With this hope, I wish you all a very Happy Women’s Day!
This blog contribution was made by Aleena Ahmad.
Hi. My name is Aleena. I am a graduate in Electrical Engineering and currently working as a Market Analyst. I love to read books — obsessed with political non-fiction. I find baking therapeutic, and I like to start my day with yoga. I believe writing is the best way to articulate one’s thoughts and start a conversation. I am passionate about women empowerment initiatives and I’m always looking for opportunities to contribute.
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