Opinion: Do hashtags cut it on IWD?

By Claire Braund, WOB Executive Director

The global hashtag for ´╗┐International Women's Day is #BreakTheBias. At first glance this sounds worthy and is a simple but effective social media visual. The rationale asks us to all imagine and sign up to a gender equal world. “A world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that's diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated.”


Having been asked to ‘strike the pose’ I found myself asking how will this IWD hashtag and campaign result in a change to biases against women? What was the result of all the previous IWD campaigns we have so enthusiastically embraced?

2021 - #ChooseToChallenge
2020 - #EachForEqual
2019 - #BalanceForBetter

There is no doubt that the sentiment behind these hashtags in genuine and authentic and perhaps it is designed to do no more than continue the clarion call for action on accelerating women’s equality around the world.

To be brutally honest I think this vision is virtually unattainable in a world where many countries are still beset by slavery, poverty, violence and conflict, where a male ultranationalist dictator has just invaded his neighbour, displacing millions of women and children and the workplaces and backyards of our own country have unacceptable rates of sexual harrassment and bullying.

Does this mean I think we should give up on the vision of a just and equitable world? No, it does not. However, I think we need fewer lofty goals and a bit more focus on what we can do individually and in small groups.

A great example of which is the SafetyRespectEquity campaign launched by high profile women, Grace Tame, Brittany Higgins, Christine Holgate and others. This invites us all to join in demanding a future in which women enjoy safety, respect and equity.

There is a list of clear actionable outcomes:

  1. Implement all 55 recommendations in the Respect@Work report including a positive duty on employers.
  2. 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave.
  3. Acting on the National Plan for First Nations Women and Girls.
  4. Ensuring effective employment programs for women with disability.
  5. Stronger, consistent child sexual assault laws.
  6. Eliminating the gender pay gap including necessary legal reform.
  7. Free, accessible and quality early childhood education and care.
  8. Expanding paid parental leave.
  9. Embedding respectful relationships and consent education everywhere including schools, universities, workplaces and homes.

So this IWD I am not going to cross my arms to #BreakTheBias but I did sign up to support the SafetyRespectEquity campaign and invite you all to do the same.

Watch the Safety, Respect, Equity video here:

Wishing you a safe and respectful International Women’s Day.

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