International Women’s Day is a day celebrated around the world where we recognise all women for their achievements, without regard to any divisions, whether it be national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic, or political. This year, to celebrate International Women’s Day, we have asked 2022 Diana Award Recipient and founder of Teach Us Consent, Chanel Contos to share with us some ways that that we can all work together to build a better future for women and girls across the globe.
International Women’s Day is both a day to celebrate women and to draw attention to the disproportionate barriers to equality that they experience. Whilst I love celebrating women, the work that I do day-to-day focuses on the latter. That’s why I started an online petition to mandate consent education in Australia, with the hope that this would reduce sexual violence.
Anyone can be a victim of sexual violence, but girls and women are disproportionately subjected to it.
Here are some things that you can do this International Women’s Day to work towards a better future for girls and women everywhere – not just in terms of sexual violence, but for equality as a whole.
Have a conversation with someone close to you who you trust. Talk about what the current norm is for experiences for girls and women and what about this doesn’t feel fair. Identify ways in which you may be contributing to these experiences and think about how you can start working towards eliminating them.
Let the people around you know that starting this International Women’s Day, you want to contribute to a better world. Let them know that you welcome them to tell you when you do or say something that contributes to the discrimination against girls and women without realising it.
Same thing! If you hear something that you’ve reflected on and decided isn’t part of the world you want to be part of creating – call it out!
It’s ok to have a conversation about violence against women and to get it wrong at first. It’s better to get it wrong sometimes and contribute to the conversation than it is to say nothing at all. However, it is important to understand that when discussing violence against girls and women, being able to stay calm during the discussion is not reflective of your correctness on the matter, but instead is a level of privilege to be able to engage in this conversation without feeling distressed.
Listen to a podcast; learn about the gender pay gap; look up different forms of discrimination that girls and women experience every day; follow an Instagram account. Some of my favourites are @thatdesifeminist, @feminist, and not to be too biased but @teachusconsent is great for holistic consent education. Engage with content that promotes gender equality and provides you with alternative perspectives. Follow these accounts and take it upon yourself to learn at your own pace, in your own time, in a safe and non-judgmental space.