Well, you already know the answer to that!
Imagine if all your achievements are celebrated for only ONE day out of the 365?
Feels a bit rushed, doesn’t it? That is exactly what happens when Women’s Day is celebrated on the 8th of March every year. Putting women in the spotlight for one day doesn’t push the ugly facts under the carpet. The Global Gender Gap Report 2020 found that on an average, it will take 99.5 years to achieve gender parity; a good enough reason to change the way we perceive ‘Women’s Day’.
And before this post gets passed off as a rant AGAINST celebrating Women’s Day (which it is not) it is important to note that women are not calling for endless celebrations dedicated to them. Instead, they are demanding equal rights and respect, in all walks of life.
Level the playing field this Women’s Day
50 years ago, here are three things that women couldn’t really do at work.
- Retain a job during pregnancy.
- Legally report any sexual harassment.
- Seek a higher education that would help get a raise in the salary.
Although pregnancy discrimination is illegal, companies till today have been reported to fire women due to pregnancy. A 2018 study conducted by the Ashoka University’s Genpact Centre for Women’s Leadership titled ‘The Predicament of Returning Mothers’ reported that 48% of Indian women resign within four months of returning from maternity leave. Thus, creating a healthy and supportive ecosystem for women is as crucial as ensuring that women’s jobs are safe during their pregnancies.
The second key area is the mounting sexual harassment at the workplace. A report published in MIT Press Journals states that a major reason for organizational hierarchies lacking an equal representation of women workforce, is that they are subjected to different forms of sexual harassment. And this has been on the rise in the last few years, where it gets treated as a ‘game of power’.
For women working in the food industry and in male-dominated professions, sexual harassment was found to be more prominent. Although the global #MeToo movement has propelled organizations to take necessary actions, the POSH policy needs to be strongly enforced at the workplace, barring any gender biases.
Like pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment at work too has a long-term negative impact on women’s mental health, career advancement opportunities and sometimes, even complete abandonment of well-paying jobs.
Is anything actually going to change?
Hopefully, yes. This year’s pivotal theme for Women’s Day #EachforEqualaims at not only at highlighting these alarming statistics, but also advocating for generational equality as a whole.
The United Nations multi-generational campaign is demanding equal pay, equal childcare responsibilities, equal representation in politics and most importantly an end of all forms of violence against women.
Although women have made massive strides in getting an education, taking up leadership roles and obtaining voting rights, we are still a long way off from living in a global equitable environment.
Building a gender equal world, together
It is imperative for individuals, organizations and countries to come together in order to close the gender gap. The 2020 #EachforEqual campaign will run all year long to celebrate women not just for one day of the year, but also reinforce the immediate need for equal rights everywhere. There is no ‘right’ time to champion for generational equality. It needs to begin NOW!
Economic Times carried a report stating that as of March 2019, there are only 3.7% in the role of women senior leadership, in India. Which means that for every 1,814 persons in the role of MDs / chief executives of the NSE-listed companies, only about 67, happen to be women.
Companies are just about waking up to diversity and inclusion with more women taking on leadership roles. Even though strong gender parity is visible in increasing attainment of formal education, organizations need to provide sufficient up-skilling resources to young women in an effort to close the gender gap.
Women’s rights have come a long way from what they were 50 years ago, but the only way to ensure an equal world where women are valued and respected, is by taking action towards making it a reality.