‘I’m a feminist. I’ve been a female for a long time now. It’d be stupid not to be on my own side.’ – Maya Angelou
I like this quote. Feminism, bizarrely, is seen by many as a dirty word. An ‘extreme’ stance. For me, this quote distils feminism down into its simplest form: women wanting something better for women. Because why wouldn’t they?
Every year the online trolls emerge and ask: ‘Why do we even need an International Women’s Day, it’s discrimination!” Sigh.
But it’s good that they ask that question, because it provides an opportunity for the sensible people to list the many ways in which women still do not have equality – the ongoing pay disparity, under representation in the boardroom and in our government., the #Metoo campaign etc etc etc
For business, IWD is a great opportunity to make positive changes. To consider the way it communicates, to use its commercial power to further causes which empower women or use its profile to highlight great causes.
Sadly, like any high-profile day, it’s also at high risk of co-option. Every year there are horrifying examples of brands shamelessly using the day to push products and completely missing the point, and this year is no different. One of this year’s worst culprits is Ann Summers. Yes, Ann Summers. The raunchy purveyer of lingerie and sex toys is perhaps not a brand that immediately springs to mind as a supporter of IWD. And how have they shown their support? They’ve changed the signage outside two of their high-profile stores to read WomAnn Summers. Ewww.