Women’s Day – Can we rise above the tokenism?

It’s a good thought, it’s good to have these conversations, but why should almost half the population on this planet, have a day earmarked to celebrate them?

I think its just another day for brands to have a field day, sell the idea of the celebration and have more people buy into the frenzy around the day than turn it into something a lot more powerful and lasting than a day of gifts, cards and flowers. It’s also a day for social media frenzy and thank you notes that are bordering on condescension or are patronising. The commoditisation around this construct is a little disappointing.

This month and the messaging around it is exhausting in many ways. A lot of it is disguised tokenism and I am yet to understand how what we do is going to balance the skewed gender equation.

Has the ticker moved? Have we done something tangible to change the stark reality that hits us every day? I have been part of a lot of these talks and have been invited to speak on many platforms and my primary observation has been that it’s mostly an all-women gathering and the men have been left out of the conversation.

How can you have a conversation around gender, opportunities, bias and equality and not have men in the room participating and imbibing these thoughts. Change can only come when people are invested in equality and do their bit everyday in both personal and professional contexts. So, for starters we need men to be included in these forums and made to participate. This reminds me of the #HeForShe campaign and what Emma Watson had to say – “It is time that we all see gender as a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideals.”

Let me tell you this isn’t a feminist spiel. Yes, I am feminist and not the man-hating image of feminist you have conjured up in your head. Feminism is all about equal opportunities and not about treating everyone equally but more around empowering equal outcomes. If you want equal pay, equal rights, equal education opportunities, equal access to healthcare and the larger spectrum of equality, then, you are a feminist! Unfortunately, the word feminist is probably the most misunderstood word in our world today.

Let’s plan to invest in the ideology of what Women’s Day stands for – empowerment, education, safety, healthcare, self-care, energy access, legal rights and so much more, not just on one day earmarked, but all year round. Let’s invest in more businesses that are run and started by women, let’s create policies around the women workforce that empowers without them having to ask for special privileges. Let’s educate more people around the context of what educating the girl child means. Let’s work on creating equal opportunities for women in our world and let’s ensure we do our bit in changing the current narrative that exists.

As an ode to all the amazing women that exist, here’s one of my favourite quotes,

A wise woman wishes to be no one’s enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone’s victim.
– Maya Angelou

As communicators we have the power to spark a change and it’s never too late to do so! So, when you have a say in what is happening within your teams or in the company or even amongst your peers or your immediate family or circle, be the champion of equality and raise your voice to make it happen.

Here’s a poem I wrote on Women’s Day and sharing it here with all of you…

Well it’s time for another round of tokenism,
A day earmarked,
Sometimes extended to a month,
Flowers, chocolates, gifts,
Another brand opportunity,
To flood messages,
Celebrating almost half the world’s population,
I’d rather get respect all year round,
I’d rather see an end to female foeticide,
And have more women in leadership,
More women living their dreams,
Living life on their terms,
Breathing Independence,
Earning their own money,
Not raped, not abused,
Not bullied, not controlled,
Not forced or coerced,
Allowed to blossom,
Unrestrained and free,
Without judgement and bias,
Making choices, taking decisions,
Being whoever, whatever they want to be,
So, let’s start and be the change,
Let’s make it a part of life,
Because, It’s our day, every day!
– Shreya

Shreya Krishnan
Vice President - Marketing and Communications at Aon India Insurance Brokers
Shreya is a CSR Specialist and Corporate Grooming Consultant. Her interests lie in Activism, Dance, Theatre, Poetry, Blogging, Modelling, Acting. She considers herself an Earth Warrior and is an Event Anchor and Trainer. She is a Pageant Winner and public speaker.

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