Rights, not cupcakes: it’s time to reclaim International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day began as a fight for the political, economic and social rights of women.

Activists around the world marched and fought for equal pay, the right to vote, paid leave, and other critical milestones. 

Yet in some workplaces, International Women’s Day can now look like handing out pink cupcakes, men doing the dishes for the day, and feel-good celebrations.

“It’s important that we celebrate women, but this isn’t a day for patronising speeches or small gestures,” said Respect Victoria CEO Emily Maguire. “This is a day not just for celebration of what we have achieved and what women can offer, but a day of action to encourage more change.”

It’s easy to look to other countries and think ‘that could never happen here.’ From the overturning of Roe v Wade to the erosion of trans rights in the UK, and state-sanctioned violence in Iran. 

“Here in Australia, women are not yet equal. We face inequalities and violence in our workplaces, homes, relationships and communities,” said Ms Maguire. 

“And, we know that some groups of women are experiencing staggering levels of discrimination and marginalisation. On International Women’s Day and beyond, we must be talking about the realities of all women who live in this country, and around the world.” 

“We cannot be complacent. Every single one of us has a responsibility to build a future where all women are all safe, equal and respected,” said Ms Maguire.  

International Women’s Day must be a rallying cry for transformational change, for gender equity, and for solidarity with women across the world. 

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