International Women's Day: Why it shouldn't be 'us versus them'

As a woman, do I feel we need an International Women's Day? Do I feel proud that my achievements are being celebrated - or do I feel that it denigrates other people through exclusion?

International Women's Day is not about excluding men, argues Nik Govier
International Women's Day is not about excluding men, argues Nik Govier
You know what – it doesn’t matter what I think. My voice isn’t more important than anyone else’s and this is what bothers me about the debates for and against such days.  

I believe everyone’s voice is and should be equal – just like the people behind them.
 
Cries like "Where’s International Men’s Day?" are a perfect example – a desperate cry to hear your voice heard above the crowd, as if a day that isn’t all about you risks diluting your identity, making you doubt who you are while in someone’s shadow for 24 hours.  

Well if that’s the case, your identity can’t have been that formed to begin with.

Days that applaud difference – be it gender, race, sexuality, whether you’re a pirate or not (remember Talk Like a Pirate Day?) – should be about positive affirmation, bringing people together through a commonality and assuring them they aren’t alone. And that they matter. 

So many people don’t have a voice, and don’t feel that they matter.  

They need others like them to stand by them, to stand together – their voice is quiet on its own but stronger when added to a crowd.  

It’s about connections and contradictions and explorations – not reductions. 

The achievements of the one don’t deny the achievements of the other – it isn’t about sibling rivalry between different allegiances.  

This is where brands can really get it wrong – when they seek to privilege one group over another by hopping on to a cultural moment to promote themselves, not looking at what their campaign might look like from the outside in.  

Of course brands and marketers are all about promotion – it’s what we do.  

But the end goal should be about increasing human happiness for everyone – not just for some depending on calendar dictates.

Is it ever a good idea to malign one section of your audience to impress another? If nothing else, look at the long game.  

It would be hard to diversify into new sectors if previously you’ve been proud of your disdain for them.
And it’s also worth remembering to give stereotyping a wide berth on days such as these, which celebrate just one facet of being human; just because you’re a woman it doesn’t mean that’s all you are.  

Marketers need to be careful of reducing people to typecasts – as one of my colleagues once eloquently put it, "who wants to be viewed through their uterus?"

Anyone who views a celebration that’s not about them with suspicion and hostility is entirely missing the point.  

International Women’s Day isn’t about a negation of everything male – look around, binary opposites don’t exist any more.  

It’s just an excuse to celebrate part of the spectrum, which should make every part stronger. 

It’s not exclusive – it’s inclusive, through a shared desire to celebrate the positive contributions people make to the world and to each other.  

And don’t we all want to do that?

Nik Govier is the co-founder of Unity

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