With the topic of women's rights being at the top of every news agenda and cycle, the fight for gender equality has more conversation and change surrounding it than ever before—and we've seen the good and the bad of it. Fortunately, we've seen an overwhelming number of organizations, communities and even political groups step forward and start initiatives, stimulate conversations and circulate rhetoric for further advancement towards a gender equal state.
In celebration of International Women's Day, we can take a short break from the fight and celebrate the social, economic and political achievements of women worldwide. Here are five ways you can support women and celebrated International Women's Day.
Understand and Identify Second-Generation Bias
While sexism in the workplace has become far more unacceptable, it has turned into a more subtle and inadvertent form.
It persists in the form of second-generation bias, which are "practices that may appear neutral or non-sexist... but which discriminate against women because they reflect the values of the men who created or developed the setting, usually a workplace." Some examples of this is where women are described as "bossy" or "abrasive" in their performance reviews or penalized for taking maternity leave.
The first step to combating second-generation bias is educating yourself. Read up on how it manifests in the workplace and ways you can come together to push against it. The second step is forming strong relationships with your colleagues and speaking up when you witness something that is unjust.
Help Someone Younger than You
While strong mentorship can provide any professional with the tips and tricks to succeed in the workplace, the advice is far more valuable when you're receiving it from someone who is like you in many ways.
There are many challenges in life and the workplace that are gender specific. "Mentors provide a mirror for our strengths and offer guidance toward creating the future we want," said Carin Rockind, a happiness and life-purpose expert. "Mentors remind us of who we are and empower us to feel confident in our path."
Not only do mentors offer a kind of guide or director of relevant experience to achieving your goals but, on the flip side, it creates an opportunity for a seasoned professional to share their story to and for other women.
By being a mentor, you have the chance to influence the next generation.
Then... Help Your Peers
Being the only woman in a senior leadership position can be isolating. Senior women need to help other leaders, especially if they want to see more diversity in top positions.
If you hold an upper management position, you hold a lot of power in terms of opening the door for other qualified professionals. Toni G. Wolfman, a former attorney and currently an executive-in-residence at Bentley University’s Center for Women in Business, believes that "sitting women directors and executives have been the most effective agents of change. They are the folks who speak up when a nominating committee or search firm presents an all-male slate of candidates, and they are the ones who reach out to identify women whose skill sets and experience meet the company’s needs."
In order to see more women executives in the boardroom, you must play an active role in getting them there.
Support Women's Organizations
When you invest time, money and resources in women and girls, you're investing in stronger families, communities, businesses and a stronger future. Here are some organizations that are dedicated to helping women.
"Ten Thousand Villages’ fair trade mission has been vital in keeping women in Mymensing and Bangladesh, out of the sex work industry. Many of these women were forced into this line of work and were so grateful to find other means of income that took them out of harm’s way...It gives me great joy to know that Ten Thousand Villages helps support women like her in their journey to a better life.” — Melissa Hand, Buyer for Bangladesh at Ten Thousand Villages
Chicago Foundation for Women invests in women and girls as catalysts and focuses on building strong communities for all. The CFW believes that equality is a human right, that people be able to make choices and have control over their minds, bodies and spirits, and that strength and wisdom comes from all voices and embrace the complexities of communities.
At ANN INC., they believe every woman deserves a chance to be her best self every day. Through the ResponsiblyAnn initiative, they are dedicated to empowering 100,000 women around the globe through education and training about health, finances and beyond. There is a remote village in the Himalayas where an inspiring group of women have mastered the artful yet painstaking process of collecting pashmina wool, hand-spinning yarn and individually dying each and every piece.
Raven + Lily was created to alleviate poverty among women. They currently help employ over 1,500 marginalized women at fair trade wages to give them access to a safe job, sustainable income, health care, education and a real chance to break the cycle of poverty for themselves and their families. They are proving that it is possible to scale a fair trade fashion forward brand, while making an impact for good on people and the planet.
TOMS Bags purchases support our Giving Partners in delivering the vital materials and training needed to help provide a safe birth regardless of the facility. With each purchase, TOMS grants safe birth kits, training and ensuring a healthy delivery for a mother and her baby.
Too often, women are pitted against one another or find themselves in a rift when discussing sensitive topics, like feminism and womanhood in the work place.
This can be easily avoided if everyone involved takes a step back, accepts that everyone has their own opinions on hot topics, different ways of living life and understands that respecting someone doesn't mean you have to agree with that person.
Just by listening to one another, encouraging each other and communicating effectively, you will significantly strengthen the bond that you feel with other women.
Cutting each other a little slack will go a long way.