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Focus Politics

International Women’s Day

Beatrice Kuan March 8, 2018

A celebration for all women in the world

“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights,”

Gloria Steinem (world-renowned feminist, journalist and social and political activist)

A look back into the past…

1908

15,000 women marched through New York City demanding for shorter hours, better pay and equal voting rights.

28 February 1909

The 1st National Women’s Day was observed across the United States. The following year, International Women’s Day was proposed to be celebrated every year on the 8th of March.

1975

The United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day on 8th of March.


Today we celebrate International Women’s Day. It is a day that is all about unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy and action. Celebrated on a global scale where women are recognized for their achievements regardless of their national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political backgrounds. It is also a day that gives women the opportunity to empower others to get involved and use their voices.

According to the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report, it will take 217 years to close the gender parity gap. Now more than ever it is important to aim for progress. Hence, the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day: #PressForProgress. It is no secret that women get paid significantly less than men working in the same business as them. In 2017, it has been reported that the global average annual pay for women in the health, economics, politics and education areas was $12,000, compared with $21,000 for men. Despite numerous initiatives to break the glass ceilings, men are still getting paid much more than women. Even as the earnings of women rises, the earnings of men continuously increase.

Carrie Grace, an editor who has been at BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) for more than 30 years resigned from her China post when she discovered that she was paid 50% less than her male counterparts.

“Despite the BBC’s public insistence that my appointment demonstrated its commitment to gender equality, and despite my own insistence that equality was a condition of taking up the post, my managers had yet again judged that women’s work was worth much less than men’s.” Gracie asked for parity but did not get it. One of the reasons she was paid less than the her colleagues was because she had been “in development” for the first three years of her four in the job, despite the fact she is 55 and has worked for the BBC for more than 30 years.

The resignation of Carrie Grace is one of many examples of women resigning from their jobs due to unequal pay, not only in the United Kingdom but all over the world.

It is known that for years Hollywood actresses have been paid significantly less than their male counterparts and for years the issue has been kept silent. But no more. The gender pay gap is finally receiving more media attention in Hollywood as actresses have spoken out about the unequal pay within the industry.

Just to name a few…

Oprah Winfrey:

Recently, as part of TIME Firsts, Oprah revealed that she’s been fighting to close the gender wage gap for decades. “I built the show around myself and the producers,” the icon said about The Oprah Winfrey Show. “We were young women in our 30s trying to figure it out and find our own way.” Although she had gotten a raise, her producers’ salaries stayed the same, so she approached her boss demanding a raise for her team. “He actually said to me, ‘They’re only girls. They’re a bunch of girls. What do they need more money for?’” she recalled in the TIME video. “I go, ‘Well, either they’re gonna get raises or I’m gonna sit down. I will not work unless they get paid and so they did.

Ellen Pompeo:

“At one point, I asked for $5,000 more than him just on principle, because the show is Grey’s Anatomy and I’m Meredith Grey. They wouldn’t give it to me,” the actress told The Hollywood Reporter, recalling being paid less than her former onscreen love interested, played by Patrick Dempsey. “I could have walked away, so why didn’t I? It’s my show; I’m the number one. I’m sure I felt what a lot of these other actresses feel: Why should I walk away from a great part because of a guy? You feel conflicted but then you figure, ‘I’m not going to let a guy drive me out of my own house.’”

In late 2017, after Patrick Dempsey’s departure, Ellen Pompeo signed a new deal that will make her the highest-earning actress in a TV series drama with $575,000 per episode (she films 24 a year), along with a seven-figure signing bonus and two full backend equity points on the series.

Jessica Chastain:

“There’s no reason why an actress such as Lawrence should be doing a film with other actors and get paid less than her male co-stars,” Chastain said. “It’s completely unfair. It’s not right. It’s been happening for years and years and years. I think it’s brave to talk about it. I think everyone should talk about it.”
As Hollywood is a growing force of influence and visibility to spark public debate, it has the opportunity to set an example for every industry. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t do our part in supporting the cause and raising awareness to our friends and family on the inequality. This is a conversation for both men and women to participate in, to help close the gap between gender parity gap. In light of the 2017 sexual harassment allegations that sparked movements such as the #MeToo social media hashtag and Times Up, now seems to be the best time to continue supporting women to feel empowered and have people supporting them. So much so that the Merriam-Webster has dubbed “feminism” its word of the year as it was the most-searched word on its website.

How to get involved?

If you are not keen on going for women marches, you can always show your support through social media. Post about the achievements of the women in your life, what International Women’s Day means to you or a woman who you admire that has made a positive impact on you in your life.

You can also take up the commitment to #PressForChange on International Women’s Day website and choose your action. Further actions you can take include with:

  1. Watch out for IWD Resources for ideas on what more you can do
  2. Download the IWD #PressforProgress selfie cards and visually share your support via social media
  3. Download the #PressforProgress posters (coming soon) and ask colleagues to write or add yellow sticky notes for their progressive actions
  4. Embed the IWD #PressforProgress widget on your own website, intranet or communications and encourage others to take bold action
  5. Publish and promote an IWD event via the IWD website
  6. Publish a page, an article, news, video and more on the IWD website
  7. Be an ambassador and continuously encourage others to #PressforProgress and let your own actions lead the way
  8. Live the #PressforProgress ethos

Every year, International Women’s Day remains an important moment to celebrate the achievements of women while calling for greater gender parity. So, join in on the movement for change and progress!