International Women’s Day 2019
by Jyqa Patano
Within every society is a feminine force of nature driving it forward. In the arts, the sciences and everything in between, women have been instrumental and continue to have a broader and wider-reaching voice than ever. Women have been speaking up, have been given platforms and are taking more positions of power than ever. This year, we celebrate women around the world on March 8 for International Women’s Day. Following their #BalanceforBetter slogan, here’s a recap of the most iconic and inspirational women’s achievements over the past year.
The Pay Gap
Talks of the gender pay gap has permeated the global economy, but in recent years there has been positive action to lessen it. The latest update of the Gender Inequality Index (GII) presented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) – which indicates “the inequalities women face in reproductive health, education, political representation and the labour market”– is at 0.441 as of 2017. The higher the GII, the greater the inequality.
As of 2017, Australia was ranked 23rd with a GII of 0.109. By 2018, Australia ranked 39th on the Global Gender Gap Index, published by the World Economic Forum. Since then, however, the pay gap has continued to decrease in the country, with the lowest pay gap in Victoria at 9.3%, according to the Australian Workplace Gender Equality Agency. The WEF reports that Australia in general has experienced a slight reversal on wage equality but has closed 73% of its pay gap. Elsewhere, Iceland has made the gender pay gap illegal, and we are hopeful that other countries will follow suit.
Business, Politics, Sports and STEM
Opportunities for women are also improving, and attitudes and behaviours in traditionally male-dominated spaces are changing. The recent WEF report indicates that there is a global average of 20-30% of women in political and economic leadership where data is available. The Gender Equality Agency indicates that, as of February 2019, there are roughly 30% of directors are women in companies listed in the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) 200. In the US, nearly a quarter of the Congress is made up of women as of the midterm elections, with two Native Americans, two Muslims and two of the youngest lawmakers to boot.
In sports, the Olympic Agenda 2020 has reaffirmed their commitment to gender balance. Olympic medallist Aly Raisman brought forward an impactful statement which was instrumental in the sexual abuse conviction of Larry Nassar. Serena Williams has made a daring comeback after giving birth and even won while she was pregnant with her first child.
Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) still need a little push, but historically, they have contributed so much to the advancement of technology – Ada Lovelace, Marie Curie, Hedy Lamarr and Florence Nightingale have contributed much to astronomy, physics, chemistry, medicine and IT. These days, we hear names like Adriana Ocampo (named one of the 50 Most Important Women in Science for finding the asteroid crater that wiped out the dinosaurs), Eva Ramon Gallegos (who, with her team, has found the cure for HPV just last month) and Vera Rubin (a leading astronomer who worked on galaxy rotation rates and dark matter) as leaders of women in STEM.
It is vital now, more than ever, that we keep encouraging women to Be Phenomenal and choose their own futures, and that attitudes of both men and women must change to ensure further progression of our society towards gender equality.
In Society and Culture
Worldwide, the women’s rights movements have been phenomenal. In Saudi Arabia, for example, women gained the right to drive in June 2018. In Hollywood, Geena Davis is spearheading the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media to establish the foundations of transparency on the problems of gender disparity in the media.
The most inspiring moment, however, came in the face of the revelation of a systemic, institutional system of sexual abuse in Hollywood. Women from all over the world banded together for the Time’s Up and #metoo movement as a response to the sexual violence and abuse that they suffered over the years, using their victimhood and public support to regain voices that have been silenced in the past. These movements mobilised and inspired women to speak up, encourage empathy, and enact further social change that can ensure safety, dignity and fairness for women in the workplace.
Abortion rights laws also made great headways in Chile and Ireland – countries where the right to have an abortion have been decriminalised. Globally, nearly 45% of abortions are unsafe, which could have lasting health implications on the body and could even lead to death.
Intersectionality is vital in celebrating women from all walks of life. While class remains a vital barrier, there is more visibility now for women of colour than before.
Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma won multiple awards during the award season, featuring Mexican actress Yalitza Martínez, who was nominated for an Academy Award. Recall Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians – domestic box office revenues in North America continue to rise where women are in leading roles, proving that people want to see their identities and experiences represented.
The Future is Female
Advocacy has produced results for women’s representation in media, politics, economics, academia, and all facets of society. Our journey is far from over and the fight has only begun, but there is much to celebrate in terms of the advancement of women’s rights from centuries past.
The strength of women is truly something to behold, and the Casper & Casper team find inspiration from women in their lives: mothers, daughters, aunts, grandmothers, bosses and friends. Women are becoming more visible in the creative industry, making big waves for themselves as well. Creative director Leyton is inspired by the amazing Yayoi Kusama, and I have always admired Marie Kondo, Ava DuVernay and the late great Carrie Fisher. Maria is inspired by the insight and strength of Maya Angelou, the creative talent of Zaha Hadid and the compassion and humbleness of Mother Teresa.