Women’s Day 2021 was celebrated two days ago, giving us all a reason to empower the amazing women in our lives and recognize the achievements of those who came before us. Most importantly, however, the 8th of March is a day to envision a future free from stigma, stereotypes, and harmful gender norms.
The fight against gender inequality is nowhere near finished as women everywhere continue to be subject to gender-based discrimination and violence. Even in the so-called model countries of equality, complete labour market equity looms somewhere far on the horizon as female-dominated industries continue to be underpaid. Crime statistics about femicide, sexual violence, and domestic abuse further contribute to painting a horrifying picture about the state of gender equality in the world.
Moreover, the suffocating culture of silence around sexual harassment and domestic violence continues to mute female voices. Even women’s right to self-determination is ridiculed with the politicization of the female body that is put under public debate.
In the mainstream media, defamatory language reinforcing negative stereotypes of girls and women continues to be used. Phrases or words such as man up, cry like a girl, bitch and slut, all root from a power dynamic that is not favorable towards women and carries on dismantling them. A study by UNDP further shows that nearly nine out of ten people have negative biases against women. This suggests that qualities traditionally seen as feminine or girly are not respected equally to masculine traits.
In the corporate world, if feminine traits are not valued, all genders must adapt to a more masculine model despite the fact that traditionally female traits like soft skills, such as empathy and emotional intelligence, have shown to encourage employee motivation, performance, and work-place communication. Moreover, daring to be nurturing, vulnerable, and compassionate will improve the quality of all our relationships in terms of both personal and professional lives.
Equal respect for women would also give men the permission to embrace their feminine sides, and thus free them from the shackles of toxic masculinity. Letting go of harmful gender norms would mean liberation for everyone, as girls are allowed to be angry, complicated, and unapologetic, while boys are allowed to be fragile, sensitive, and gentle.
In a world that diminishes women, being unapologetically girly and proud is a rebellious act. Thus, wear your red lipstick like a coat of armor in the war against outdated gender roles. The future is feminist and no matter what, the fight for a more equal future persists. So in celebration of Women’s Day 2021, regardless of what gender you identify with, harness the divine female energy in you and become a part of creating a more compassionate, thoughtful and loving tomorrow.