How men can be allies on International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day 2022 is on Tuesday 8 March

Meredith Clark
New York
Tuesday 08 March 2022 15:16 GMT
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

International Women’s Day is a global day of celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women, which takes place this year on 8 March. There have been many strides for women since the first IWD in 1911, but we still have a long way to go.

From a persisting pay gap to attacks on reproductive health, the fight for gender equality isn’t just a women’s issue, it’s a human rights issue.

On International Women’s Day, men must acknowledge and challenge the power dynamics that exist in the workplace, at home, and in their everyday lives. Here’s a list of ways men can be allies in the fight for gender equality.

Advocate for women in the workplace

In 2021, women made only $0.82 for every dollar a man makes, which is one cent more than they made in 2020. When men and women have the same job title and perform the exact same job responsibilities, women are still only paid two per cent less for no attributable reason. Eliminating the gender pay gap on a global scale starts with eliminating sexist practices in your own working environment.

Men can support the gender equality movement by being transparent about their salaries. For many, sharing one’s salary with co-workers might seem taboo. But in fact, being transparent about how much you’re making encourages an open discussion about rightful compensation. In doing so, the workplace transforms into an environment where women feel comfortable negotiating a higher salary.

It’s not just through pay that women are discriminated against in the workplace.

Micro-aggressions also occur in day-to-day interactions with colleagues and employers. Women are often called bossy or aggressive for asserting themselves, while men are seen as “confident” and strong for the same actions.

When you hear someone call a woman “bossy” in the workplace, challenge that bias by asking for specific examples. Be aware that men tend to dominate workplace conversations as well, so make space for women’s voices to be heard during meetings.

Share parental duties

Gender equity starts at home. In 2021, a poll found that 75 per cent of women feel most unequal in their own homes due to the unfair division of housework, also known as invisble labour.

In two-parent households where both parents work, about half of families reported that the mother does more when it comes to managing the children’s schedules and activities.

In households where the father works full time and the mother works part time or not at all, the distribution of labour when it comes to childcare and housekeeping is less balanced, according to Pew Research Center.

Lessen the labour divide by assisting your partner with household chores. Ask them to write down a list of all the invisible labour they take on during the week, and even out the load. The invisible labour of women almost always goes unnoticed, so give credit where credit is due. Just because it’s unpaid doesn’t mean it isn’t work.

Allow yourselves to be educated

Men who support the movement towards gender equality should not forget that women are the main focus of the fight for women’s rights.

Being an ally to women means listening to and acknowledging their lived experiences. Take this opportunity to assess your own privilege within a patriarchal system, and educate other men on how they can support women’s equality too.

Acknowledge male privilege

The first step in being an ally for any movement is to recognise your privilege within a white, patriarchal system.

Start by asking yourself how your gender has influenced the opportunities you’ve had in life. Have you ever been dress-coded during school for showing too much skin? Have you ever felt nervous walking home alone at night? Have you ever been congratulated for having sex, rather than being slut-shamed for it?

Our current social, political, and economic society is built upon a system that gives men a level of privilege that women are not rewarded. Men can support the fight for gender equality by asking themselves how they’ve benefited from gender inequality.

There are many ways men can be allies on International Women’s Day, but achieving gender equality requires men to first be advocates for change.

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