Resolutions / Wellbeing

International Women’s Day is not the time for a conversation about men’s rights

This year on International Women's Day, the third most trending search in Google was "International Men's Day". The wave of search volume was accompanied by dozens of articles on the importance on International Men's Day and why it needs to be celebrated too.

Searches for "International Women's Day" didn't even make it into the top 10. It's a sad reality that yielded a proverbial sigh of frustration across our office today. And it shows just how much further we have to go to reach a place of true equality.


The fact that thousands of people yesterday saw "International Women's Day" and so desperately needed to find out if men get a day too is a form of petulance that I will never understand.

Do you also go around angrily researching all the other office birthdays while Jill from accounts is cutting her cake? Do you also get annoyed your friend David is getting all the attention on his wedding day, because all weddings matter?

International Women's Day exists for a number of important reasons. It is a day to spotlight the successes of women and also the myriad issues that are still faced by women every day.

Here are a few harsh truths for us to digest:

Women have fewer financial resources but our cost of living is higher - In Australia, women on average earn 13.4% less than men - but products aimed at women are on average 7% more expensive than those aimed at men. Women also retire with less super than men and one in three women retire in poverty.

Women are not equally part of government decision making - Women are Heads of State or Government in just 22 countries of the world's 195. Of those countries, just 24.9 percent of national parliamentarians are women.

We are disproportionately more like to face violence and harassment - in Australia, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner. One in three Australian women is a survivor of physical and/or sexual violence perpetrated by a man since the age of 15. Australian women are nearly three times more likely than men to experience violence from an intimate partner.

I should also add that that these Australian statistics are even more troubling and disproportionate for women of colour.

Taking a global lens, consider the fact that women were not allowed to possess a driver's license in Saudi Arabia until 2018 or that 200 million women have undergone female genital mutilation and that another 3 million each year are at risk.

Think about how car safety technology like seat belts and air bags are designed based on the height and weight of men, so women are more likely to die in car crashes regardless of who is driving. Know that women are half as likely to receive treatment for a heart attack because our education system doesn't teach that women experience heart attacks differently to men.

Women live in a world built by men for men.

It's appalling that on this day, one that exists to bring attention to these fact, so many people sought to drag attention away and move it back to men. Because after thousands of years of abuse and violence, women can't possibly have one day without you getting one too.

To let you know, there actually is an International Men's Day. It's on November 19 each year, and it's a day that we use to highlight important issues faced by men in society. For example men have higher rates of suicide when compared to women. They also are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime - one in two men will be diagnosed with cancer compared to one in three women. It is definitely an important day that deserves international recognition - but not on International Women's Day.

Women have faced thousands of years of violence and denial of the most basic human rights. International Women's Day is about bringing attention to this and creating awareness. It's not about taking something away from men. You won't lose anything by acknowledging that we need more women in STEM or women feel unsafe walking to their cars at night. You're not giving anything up by recognising that until 1978 women could be legally fired for getting pregnant and that women weren't allowed to get credit cards until the mid 70s. In fact, you might actually gain something: empathy, knowledge and compassion.

International Women's Day is supposed to be a day of unity and allegiance. Let's keep our attention in the right place.

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