International Women's Day is celebrated on March 8th every year and is a global day of celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It is also a day of calling to action for the acceleration of gender parity and raising aware about women's equality. International Womens Day was founded more than a century ago, in 1908, when over 15,000 women marched in NYC to demand better working conditions and voting rights. (You can learn more here)
The theme for IWD2022 is #breakthebias
"Imagine a gender equal world.
A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination.
A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.
A world where difference is valued and celebrated.
Together we can forge women's equality.
Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias."
This resonates very strongly with me in regards to my values for UBU as a business - diversity, inclusivity, where difference is valued and celebrated, fighting stereotypes and celebrating women. A lot of what I have been reading in the past few weeks in the lead up to IWD is aimed at bias in the workplace. This is fantastic and very needed but left me wondering about how to approach the day as a small business owner. IWD is not, or I should say, it should not be a marketing event and that is the last thing I want to do on this day. So I did what I generally do and chat to friends and customers (and some IG strangers!) and they quickly helped me see that IWD is a day for doing what we try to do every day - sharing, connecting, supporting.
Women, together, are an incredible force. Together we can change lives. Together we are stronger. Together we can go further and faster. Creating a network or community where women feel empowered and supported and uplifted - that's where we can make change. When we help other women, we all benefit.
🤫 SECRET UPDATE! 🤫
Though I have started as a swimwear brand, I have always planned on expanding UBU and adding another "arm" to the business. Originally I planned to expand in 2020 but COVID hit and put a halt to many plans I had. But one dream I have not stopped planning and thinking about. And chatting to women recently about IWD and coming out of COVID "depressions" has made me push on with and just do it NOW -
Community events. In-person events.
Where we meet & learn & try new things & build each other up.
We have the community.
We are diverse.
We are inclusive.
We believe in supporting, encouraging and empowering other women.
Now we just need to meet in-person and see what fantastic-ness we can make happen!
I should have more to share on that next week so get on the mailing list if you aren't already, to be the first to know! (signup link at the end of the page!)
"Individually, we're all responsible for our own thoughts and actions - all day, every day.
We can break the bias in our communities.
We can break the bias in our workplaces.
We can break the bias in our schools, colleges and universities.
Together, we can all break the bias - on International Women's Day (IWD) and beyond."
What #breakthebias means for me personally?
For a while now, I have been really working on my unconscious bias. Naturally, I am a really curious person - not sure if this is because of reading so much or why I read so much! But I have always read (and in more recent years, listened to podcasts) about different cultures, different ways of life that I have had no experience of or exposure to. I like to always try to be open-minded about new ideas but our unconscious bias can often get in the way. A long time ago, I came across the saying - "The first thought that goes through your mind is what you have been conditioned to think; what you think next defines who you are." This has really stuck with me since. Often my first thought is a judgement. I used to feel very bad about those first thoughts and what it said about me but now I recognise it for what it is and focus on those second thoughts. I still have a long ways to go and so much to learn and action around bias but I am working on it.
What is unconscious bias?
Unconscious biases are learned assumptions, beliefs, or attitudes that we aren’t necessarily aware of. While bias is a normal part of human brain function, it can often reinforce stereotypes. To combat unconscious bias, you can learn about different types of biases, how they might surface and how to avoid them.
Here are some tips I gathered from my readings over the past weeks:
- Understand how unconscious bias affects us - from gender bias to beauty bias to ageism, there's lots to be aware of. (Here's a good article that quickly details 19 different biases)
- Flip it – We have all heard of a women being called a ‘working Mum’ but how often do you hear men referred to as a ‘working Dad?’ If it can’t be flipped don’t say it.
- Do not assume - ask.
- Listen – Ask women about their experience and the obstacles they face.
- Start at home – who does the housework? Who manages the household?
- Celebrate female breadwinners, rather than stigmatising them negatively as alpha females. Women now out-earn male partners in almost a quarter of households.
- Stop judging - Stop judging women differently and more harshly to their male counterparts. Eg women are often labelled as ball-breakers, difficult or aggressive when they are passionate about their work and careers.
- Tune into the challenges women face in work and in society, keep in touch with world affairs, watch documentaries, listen to podcasts etc.
- Respect and appreciate differences so that women don’t feel that they must adopt certain behaviours to succeed.
- Notice and challenge microaggressions like ‘stop being so emotional’ or ‘I find you aggressive’ when women are being passionate, and challenge them.
- Widen your social circle.
📖 Extra Reading
- @ManWhoHasItAll - a parody twitter account that highlights the double standards and bias that exists in society.
- Read ‘Invisible Women’ by Caroline Criado Perez, a book filled with eye opening data that will help you understand bias in a world designed by men
🤔 Is there a need for an International Women's Day?
Sadly, yes - very much yes. According to the World Economic Forum, none of us will see gender parity in our lifetimes, and nor likely will many of our children. Gender parity will not be attained for almost a century. This is incredibly saddening but if we all put in the work and play a part, WE WILL GET THERE!!!
Happy Women's Day. Today & Every Day. 💛
Did you know? 👇
The official colours for Women's International Day at purple, green and white and originated in the UK in 1908.
Purple for justice and dignity. Green for hope. And white for purity (though this is more than slightly controversial).
Any questions? Get in touch!