This year’s theme for International Women’s day is Choose to Challenge. The premise underlying such a topic is that a challenging world is an alert world. It is about calling out inequality and injustice against women in terms of pay, treatment, and access to opportunities. In the present-day cultural context, ignorance cannot be excused away easily under the guise of being old-fashioned. Gender relations are shifting rapidly and it is important to stay abreast of the changes in this dynamic dialogue on accelerating parity between the sexes.
For many decades, women have experienced the glass ceiling effect, wherein well-qualified and deserving candidates get passed over for certain jobs. It is an invisible barrier with very real consequences: this affects one’s career trajectory, status, earning potential, and hopes for career advancement. As a result, it isn’t surprising that not as many women were at the forefront in positions of power and leadership. Even when a woman reached a position of power, she often ran the risk of either appearing “too masculine”, directive or authoritarian, or else have her position be attributed to taking advantage of her femineity. These public perceptions and misconceptions have failed women time and again.
Women leaders face big challenges in every arena, whether it is the dual responsibility of managing their careers alongside familial life, battling patriarchal perceptions or constantly having to prove themselves. As with most things that are lesser-known and hence less well-established, women still have some way to go before we can say we live in a gender-equal society. Thankfully, owing to a mass cultural shift in recent years brought on by various movements pushing for much-needed gender parity, recent workforce trends show that women are able being able to break the glass ceilings that had restrained their potential.
Women in every industry are proving themselves to be competent visionaries and transformational leaders. Moreover, women are largely responsible for ushering into the workplace a culture that research has shown to be more participative and collaborative. This information is consistent with studies that show that women leaders are highly effective at handling crisis situations. In fact, data shows that women leaders handled the outbreak of Covid-19 better than their male counterparts. Whether it is New Zealand, Taiwan, Germany, Norway, Hong Kong, Finland or Bangladesh, female-led countries have been held up as examples of how to manage a pandemic.
One may argue that real change doesn’t take place in a single day, but all it takes is a single day to start the journey of making a difference. The real change lies not in the day itself but in the minds of each individual, of every gender, as a part of society. Women’s day represents this fight for a change to be acknowledged: to celebrate women, to raise awareness, to seek gender parity. It is time to challenge the status quo of unequal treatment. Raise your hand up against gender bias. Show your support and solidarity for an equitable society.