Still saying “Happy Women’s Day” ?

3 concrete actions to actually promote gender equality

On March 8th, the world will celebrate the International Women’s Day (IWD) a date commemorated since 1977, when the UN proclaimed this day as the Day for Women’s rights and International Peace. Events and conferences will be held around the globe to discuss about key issues affecting women and girls in their ability to fully enjoy their rights. For 2016, the topic selected by the UN was “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step it up for gender equality”

Governments and NGO’s are also preparing a portfolio of events: from Women’s of the World Festival (WoW) in the UK, and the dinner Jazz in Abu Dhabi (UAE), to the “Chicks as Crew and Cast” movie festival in Nairobi. Although commendable, I am not quite sure that calling women “chicks” is a good idea for this or any other day.

In some countries, as Colombia, my own country, IWD serves as an occasion for men and boys to buy chocolates, give cards and say aloud “happy women’s day” to every single woman we encounter in our way. But these samples of love and care are not enough. Au contraire, there is a risk that in promoting these “harmless” practices, men feel as they are fulfilling their role in treating women as equal. Nothing could be further from the true.

For this reason, I want to ask, beg and request to each men and boy in the planet to not buy flowers, write poems or say to women “happy women’s day” this coming Tuesday. Instead, I want to challenge you to do one, at least one, of the following three things:

  1. Stop helping, and start doing your share of the work:

When you are living in the same space with your mom, sister, grandmother or partner, toilets don’t get clean on their own, food does not get cooked by mystery and small children don’t put themselves to sleep. There is no magic fairy. Mostly, all of these tasks are being performed by women. This is not an opinion, it is an undeniable fact. Men tend to slack off in doing their part of the share at home. Even worse, husbands create 7 hours of extra house work for their partners!

Here is an exercise. Write down the number of times that you have cleaned the toilet of your house. Count the times that you cook per week. Ask your children who they call when they feel scared, are hungry or need help. When done, ask your partner, your mom, your sisters to do the same. As a man, your role is not to help at home, it is to do your share of the work. If you do not know what I am talking about, ask the women in your life, they will tell you. If you do not want any of this non-sense, just check this video.

  1. Be that guy:

There is always that guy. The one that does not laugh at sexist jokes and call on people when they make them. The guy who encourage his kids to wear Princess customs if that makes them happy, or the guy who wears them to make someone happy. The guy who does not buy products from companies that make sexist, degrading advertising that objectivize women and girls because #WomenAreNotObjects. The guy that takes paternity leave and fights for that right, because the only place in which a man is truly irreplaceable is at his home with his partner and children, not at the office. Celebrate that guy, support that guy, follow his example. Be that guy.

  1. Promote gender equality actions:

Gender equality goes beyond women and men. It is about respecting each individual for the mere fact of being human. It is giving real value to each life as the value we give to our own life. When you are confronted with situations that threaten this, choose the option that promotes gender equality. For instance, fighting for the right for each person to use the bathroom associated with their gender identity, challenging religious leaders and law makers who impose their moral views over the rights of women to decide over their own bodies or simply, choosing to support companies that send message of equality such as #ClothesWithoutLimits.

So instead of just saying Happy Women’s day every 8th of March, let’s start celebrating, recognizing and valuing women each day of the year by being better husbands, partners, co-workers, colleagues, friends and better men.

Still saying “Happy Women’s Day” ?
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Gender
Sebastián Molano

Sebastián Molano is a Colombian gender specialist and development worker living in Boston. Currently, he consults for different NGO's on how to promote gender justice and engage men and boys in development projects. You can check here his TEDx Talk in gender isses: [a href="http://bit.ly/TEDxTalk-DefyinGendeRoles"]http://bit.ly/TEDxTalk-DefyinGendeRoles[/a] With the support of his awesome life partner/wife, Sebastián writes about the need to engage men and women in a needed, healthy discussion about new and liberating re-configuration of gender roles. He leads Defying Gender Roles a multi-lingual group that seeks to engage men and women in how to challenge harmful prevailing gender norms and roles. Check it out: http://defyingenderoles.org/
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