Andrea T Edwards

It’s International Women’s Day and I’m frustrated as hell

I’m always happy to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) but I’ve got to tell you, after all these years attending or speaking at the events, with mostly just women in the room, I’m frustrated as hell. Nothing is changing, and then the world went into crisis and what happened? Progress for women slipped back by a generation.

A generation.

Women were left high and dry. The systems across the world failed women everywhere, especially for low income earners and women of color, who suffered the most. Not to forget, women in the developing world suffered atrocious abuse and suffering these last two years and most turned a blind eye. It is an appalling failure by our governments around the world.

Are we really supposed to believe there is not a pandemic playbook? A pandemic was always a guaranteed event, and yet, we were so unprepared? Our leaders really didn’t think through the various scenarios, did they? No they played politics instead.

One example that should have been in place – any man convicted of domestic violence should have been removed from the home before lockdowns started. A simple, obvious thing, yes? Apparently not. And we all saw the significant increase in domestic violence against women right across the globe.

Childcare should have been thought through too. How can women support their families if they can’t work, especially single mothers? So many failures. Will we ever learn.

Business and countries benefit from equality

Every year, when I speak at IWD events, or participate on social media, I always say: everyone wins with equality. Everyone.

ReadCompanies with female leaders outperform those dominated by men, data shows.

Only eight women, and no women of colour, are currently employed as CEOs in the FSTE 100, while women hold only 14% of executive directorships and 38% of all directorships, according to the Fawcett Society’s Sex and Power report 2022.

ReadDiversity wins: How inclusion matters – from 2020 but still relevant.

In fact, if you understand the data and the benefits of having more equality (and diversity) in the workplace, the business case is unequivocal. Not only do businesses win, but countries do too. This has been known for decades.

So why is it not changing and instead, getting worse? Is the desire for power so great? Are those leading businesses really incapable of seeing the facts? Is their bias so great? Are the investors in these businesses happy with the status quo, because I can’t see it as anything but a failure of leadership? Surely at the most basic level, it’s part of their fiduciary responsibility? Why is it not changing?

ReadWhat International Women’s Day is all about – and why it’s more crucial than ever

According to organisations such as The United Nations and UNESCO, more than two-thirds of the world’s 796 million illiterate people are women, it is estimated that 60% of chronically hungry people are women and around 130 million girls are out of school worldwide.

But then, why would women want to step up anyway?

ReadWhitmer plot underlines growing abuse of women officials.

The social discourse has become DISGUSTING and our societies are not doing enough to stop it, and it must be stopped. We have seen the worst of humanity on display in recent years, and for me, that is why it’s not surprising so many are struggling with hope, let alone a willingness to put our hats in the ring. It’s a very ugly time – something we must address. Where is the respect?

Not to forget the increase in violence against women! We’ve broken our societies haven’t we? We MUST prioritize some serious reflection and stop accepting things as they are. No one is happy in the world right now, let’s change it. Here’s some stories from NepalAustraliathe UKIndiagarment workers across six countries, and on I could go!

I have to say, it’s shocking how disrespected women are across the world and the fact it has gotten worse. It makes me desperately sad.

What can we do?

We fight with all our might and do not let anyone committed to the status quo continue, because they are not the majority of men. They do not speak for all of us.

We must never allow our voices to be silenced. We speak up, loud and proud, because if enough of us speak up and enough of us go for the big jobs, we will eventually be too many for them to rip us down. Let’s back each other and drive this change. Not just women, men too.

The way we work must change to enable this. Flexible working hours, better infrastructure for childcare, and on it goes. We need to transform the world of work regardless, so why not put women’s needs at the center of this redesign? And men, you get that flexibility too, so it’s good for you as well, because everyone wins with equality.

Looking ahead

Our world is suffering as we try to emerge from a pandemic, as well as a raging war that could ripple out and consume us all. It is definitely a VERY alarming time. Please read this article: Ukraine war ‘catastrophic for global food’.

This war needs to stop and now. It cannot become a bigger international crisis. It will tip humanity over the edge, because our biggest focus MUST be the climate crisis.

And yet we’re not paying attention to that. Our news feeds are consumed by the Russian invasion of Ukraine (which it absolutely should be) but because of this barbaric act, many didn’t even see the latest IPCC Report, and guess what, it’s not good.

If we do not fundamentally transform our societies this decade, we will be in a whole world of trouble. Read the report or some of the articles. There are many more.

IPCC Report

The IPCC’s sixth assessment on how climate change impacts the world

IPCC issues ‘bleakest warning yet’ on impacts of climate breakdown

UN climate report urges world to adapt now, or suffer later | Reuters

‘Delay is Death,’ said UN Chief António Guterres of the New IPCC Report Showing Climate Impacts Are Outpacing Adaptation Efforts – Inside Climate News

Q&A: Has the IPCC’s bleak warning of climate breakdown been heard? | Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) | The Guardian

In order for us to tackle the greatest crisis humanity has ever faced, we need a new way of thinking, of being. Our global consciousness must rise and we need to work out how to live on this earth in fundamentally different ways – in alignment with that which sustains us. It’s crazy to think that we’ve abused our life source for so long, we’ve pushed it to the point that our ability to survive on this planet is now at risk.

Is it any wonder our societies have gotten so out of hand? We are blind to our species biggest failings.

To ensure we manage this crisis to the very best of our abilities, we need all voices at the table – men, women, all races, religions, cultures, sexualities and more. This is a crisis that will impact communities differently, and everyone has a right to a voice in the decisions being made. Not to forget, women and children suffer the impacts of the climate crisis more than men, so they must be represented. It’s time for 50/50 for the sake of our future.

There is no question in my mind that addressing equality is paramount if we want to address the climate emergency and we have no time to lose.

So to the men, be an ally, be a leader, join together with women, side-by-side and let’s work out how to solve this. You do not lose by women having equality, you gain.

And ladies, we have to work harder. We have to demand change. We must apply for the jobs, put ourselves forward, make change happen. Yes we’ve been trying for a really long time, but we have a long way to go and it’s time to make it happen. Step up, speak up, show up. No excuses if we don’t claim our space in the world.

Equality is good for everyone, so let’s make it happen, because we desperately need it to happen – the future of our species is on the line. No more pink cupcakes, it’s time to get serious.

I’m sick of being frustrated, aren’t you?

Cheers

Andrea

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