It’s 2022. Why on earth do we still have International Women’s Day? Answer – because we need it. And yes, there is an International Men’s Day on 19 November.
So let’s look at some of the most recent evidence.
According to the Fawcett Society’s Sex and Power Report 2022, just eight women and no women of colour are Chief Executives in the FTSE 100 and women hold only 14% of executive directorships and 38% of all directorships in the UK.
Who Cares?, a recent research survey from Ipsos Mori and Business in The Community, found that nearly half the workforce are combining paid work and care. Almost three in ten workers have left, or considered leaving a job, because of difficulties in managing the work-care balance. This is particularly true of women, people of colour, and workers on low incomes. Women count for 85% of sole carers for children, and 65% of sole carers for older adults.
According to research produced this month for the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership by Ipsos, women’s safety still dominates the top three issues facing women globally – sexual harassment, sexual violence and domestic abuse. It’s been a year since the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving police officer. For those of us who lit a candle, shed a tear and gave thoughts for her family and friends, it’s so depressing to recognise that at least 125 women have been killed by men in the UK, in the last year. Karen Ingala Smith’s project ‘Counting Dead Women’, known as the Femicide Census usually reports on women killed by men annually, but has had incomplete data from 2019, largely due to the pandemic’s impact on the court system.
A number of the studies that have looked at gender disparities in relation to Covid-19 have inevitably focussed on the direct health impacts of the pandemic. Internationally men have experienced higher rates of cases of Covid-19, hospitalisation and death. But relatively few studies have focused on how the many indirect social and economic effects of Covid-19 have worsened gender inequalities.
Research conduced by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, published in The Lancet 2 March 2022, showed that women experienced greater social and economic impacts than men. This is particularly evident in employment, education (dropping out of school), and reporting gender-based violence. As so often with Covid-19, the pandemic has accelerated and exacerbated already existing features, trends and inequalities.
The study considered data from 193 countries from March 2020 to September 2021 on health and wellbeing. Throughout the world, women experienced higher employment loss than men (26% of women and 20% of men reported losing their job during the pandemic). Women were more likely than men to give up paid employment to care for others, 1.8 women to every man in March 2020 increasing to 2.4 women to every man by September 2021. Globally, women and girls were more likely to drop out of education than men and boys, with 6% of all learners with women and girls being 1.21 times more likely to drop out.
Caroline Criado Perez refers to International Women’s Day as Happy International (invisible) Women’s Day. If you haven’t already read her book ‘Invisible Women’, it is on a Kindle deal throughout March for £1.99, and members of Audible UK can buy it only on International Women’s Day itself for £1.99 Even at it’s full price it’s still a great read.
So do we still need International Women’s Day, sadly yes. There is still a huge amount of disparity, inequality and bias in the world. At such a fragile time, we need to unite, find better ways to work together, respect different views and focus on the future.