I am going to ask you all a very important question: Why do we need an International Women’s Day? Women comprise over half of the people in the world, so why do we get our own day as if we were a special subset of the population? Half of the population does not make us a special interest. So why this special celebration, just for women? Isn’t the whole “women thing” solved and so 1970s? These are questions that seem to come up every year when I, or others, write about it. When talking about women’s rights and equality, particularly in the United States, so many people, too many people, are quick to say, “Quit your whining!” But on this special day, please hear me out.
Despite being half of the population, women are half of precious else. Half the political leaders? Nope. Half of corporate executives? Forget it. Half of the decision makers in pop culture? Not even close. But I’m not being entirely fair. Women do comprise over half of the world’s population living in extreme poverty. Women are well over half of the victims of domestic abuse, violence, physical assault, and rape, and women represent a full two thirds of the 775 million illiterate adults in the world. Not exactly statistics worth celebrating. To be clear, this is not about having men be half of those horrible statistics, it is about making a world better for all. It is time to end any framing that suggests that when women gain, men fall back. “Women’s Issues are Human Rights Issues.”
There is some good news, some great news in fact, in that women are increasingly holders of financial and economic clout. We are reaching a tipping point where the combination of women’s consumer purchasing power, investment power, and financial power could accelerate positive change in ways previously unimaginable. But we are not doing it yet. A soon to be released report of global high net worth women by the Center for Talent Innovation is going to help spark the debate. Our first report (Women Moving Millions), will be released on September 18th, and it will connect the endless research with compelling stories, and include a big call to action. Women, men, all of us, have such power to use our financial clout in ways that support our values and support access and opportunity for all.
Which brings me back to my original question: Why do we need an International Women’s Day? Well, we need it because when this initiative began over 100 years ago, nearly every woman in every country in the world was marginalized and granted few rights, including the right to vote. Because despite the great progress of the past 100 years, women in every country in the world are still far from achieving true gender equality. Because the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, “Equality for Women is Progress for All” invites everyone to embrace that a world that is better for women is better for everyone. But above all else, we need an International Women’s Day because we are women. We have stood up for our rights against overwhelming odds, and we will continue to stand up until the idea of an International Women’s Day is obsolete. Now that will truly be something to celebrate.