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Why International Women’s Day is Important

What do Doctors, Professors, Teachers, Athletes, Mail Carriers and Manufacturers have in common?

The answer is that women earn significantly less in each of these professions than their male counterparts. For this reason, shining a light on International Women’s Day, on March 8, is a priority.  International Women’s Day is designed to “provide a platform to help forge positive change for women.” This year’s theme, #BreaktheBias, asks people to imagine “a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination.”

The History of Women

In 1980 President Jimmy Carter issued a presidential proclamation designating March as Women’s History Month. Each year has focused on a specific idea; this year the theme is “women providing healing, promoting hope”

History tells us that women have always been identified as healers. Herbalists, pharmacists, and midwifery were all roles performed by women. Fabiola, Trotula, Hera, and Athena were among the early heroines of healing. The 16th and 17th centuries, which ushered in modern science, saw men entering the medical profession and women being excluded. Over time women were eliminated from many professional roles and even receiving an education was off limits.

The Shadow Pandemic

Safety and equity are still not within reach for women. A 2021 UN Study called Measuring the shadow pandemic: Violence against women during COVID-19 indicates that one in two women reported that she, or a woman she knows, experienced some a form of violence during the COVID-19 epidemic.

Artwork that reads "What If women Ruled the World? A question to consider on International Women's Day.
Contemporary Artist Judy Chicago asks the question “What If Women Ruled the World?”

It isn’t just physical violence that puts women in danger. Roe v Wade, the benchmark Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion and a woman’s right to choose, is constantly being challenged. Overturning the 1973 decision would severely limit women’s reproductive rights.

Even with multiple workplace initiatives there are still significant pay gaps, and women continue to be under-represented in leadership and management positions. This has even more of an impact on women of color, who remain at the bottom of the pay hierarchy and have less employment opportunities.

To add insult to injury, women who are typically paid less than their male counterparts are also being charged more for products they buy. The Pink tax is the practice of raising prices on traditionally female focused products, even though men use many of the same products including razors, shaving cream, soaps and lotions. Even menstrual products are taxed as luxury items in many states; although there are significant efforts to eliminate the tampon tax.

It’s a Woman’s World

It is remarkable that in 2022, equity for women is still debated when the data paints such a clear picture. I recently saw a poster in an art museum that said, “what if women ruled the world?” It seems that we already do. We are just waiting to be paid for it. Let us hope that the equity that is deserved becomes available to all women.

What can you do to celebrate Women’s History Month? To be a better ally?

If you, or someone you know is experiencing physical or sexual violence you can call the domestic violence hotline at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233), text “START” to 88788 or visit https://www.thehotline.org/ for help.