I knew International Women’s Day was coming well over a week before 8 March. Like every other content creator, even I decided to see what content I could create for the company I am working with to celebrate Women’s Day. At that very moment, when that thought came to my mind, I realised I was fake.
And then I saw the many brand-related activities around Women’s Day yesterday and realised that I wasn’t the only fake one. Every one of us is fake. Let’s be honest here, none of us really care about empowering women; the only thing we care about is using Women’s Day to empower our own brand.
First of all, all of us using social media and working at startups or corporates are privileged individuals. As an employer, you’re doing really good if you’re hiring as many women as men or not stopping a woman’s promotion because she’s getting married or not rejecting a woman’s job application because she’s expecting. Every company should treat women fairly — that’s a given. But the thing is, that’s not empowerment. That’s just the very basic a company should do.
Celebrating Women’s Day doesn’t mean that you give your women employees a package of gifts that you negotiated heavily for so that it was cost-effective. Celebrating Women’s Day doesn’t mean you take a selfie with your women employees and post it on your social media. Celebrating Women’s Day doesn’t mean you give women your product or service at a discounted rate on that one day. All of these things are brand promotions. The only reason you’re doing any of that is because you want to increase your revenues and/or enhance your brand. You’re not empowering any women. None.
The women who actually need empowerment are the ones you see around you but choose to not notice. The women in the housekeeping staff at your office, your maid at home, the daily-wage earners cleaning the roads in your city, the female labourers working at construction sites, and all the other women who live in the hinterlands and are fighting to get educated or to be allowed to work. They don’t even know about fancy words like ‘patriarchy’ and that patriarchy can be fought.
If your Women’s Day endeavours were centered solely around women who know of the word ‘patriarchy’, then, like me, you too are a fake.
How many selfies did you take with the woman who gives you coffee at work? You would ask for a 30% pay hike as if it’s your birth right when you change jobs, but did you give your maid even a 5% hike in the last year? You threw away a good part of your expensive lunch without thinking twice but did you think even once about asking a female labourer if she’d eaten at all? You didn’t and neither did I. Which is why we are both a bunch of fakes.
What is the purpose then of writing this, you ask? Well, I want to stop being a little less fake. I’ll still continue using days like Women’s Day to produce content to build a brand. I’m not going to go live in a village and help women there fight patriarchy. But I’ll begin with helping the women around me as much as I can. I’ll give our maid a good hike starting this month itself. It’s not a lot, but it’s a start. And I’ll make sure that by next Women’s Day, I would have done a lot more and become a lot less fake.