Women are still, on average, paid less than men for doing the same job. They're underrepresented in positions of leadership. They're less likely to own land or productive assets. And they're more likely to be victims of sexual assault.
Yet, we're living in a time of rapid progress. The Historical Gender Equality Index is one way that economists are attempting to measure gender inequality. Using factors such as life expectancy, years of education or work, and marriage age, amongst other indicators, all the signs are showing that while no country has yet to achieve true gender equality, we are getting closer.
The theme for International Women's Day in 2020 is "I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women's Rights". It's a multigenerational movement united behind one common goal: gender equality and human rights of all women and girls.
In recognition of International Women's Day, we wanted to hear the voices of the female-identifying members of our own community. Women from different countries and cultural backgrounds and fields of work. Different educational backgrounds and life experiences. We asked them questions about what International Women's Day means to them. About women who inspire them. About taboos and the changes that they hope to see in their lifetime.
Here's what they had to share. Want to see the video interviews? Hop over to our Instagram stories!
Janine Wagner: "For me, it’s a day where we celebrate what we already have achieved regarding women’s equality and rights. And to remember that there is still a lot to do."
Cynthia Deslongchamps: “The role I would like to play is empowering women. Not in a way where we diminish the meaning of men and the power of men, but in the way of us being equals and empowering ourselves. So not in comparing but simply in looking deep within ourselves and tapping into this amazing power that we have.
And I think times are changing, which is wonderful. It is one of the reasons I’ve decided as a yoga teacher to teach not just women but all humans to tap into their inner selves, and for us to get to know ourselves and not suppress ourselves so much, and to really be ok with who we are and love that and eventually allow this magic that is inside us to come to the surface. God, the things we could do in this world, and I just want to empower women to do that."
Carla Maria de Souza: "The role I would like to play I think is a little bit what I play already. To show people that it doesn't really matter how you lived in the past, you can always transform it to something useful and impactful for the future and the present we are living in. For me, it’s all about empowerment and using the privilege and the skills and the knowledge I have, and distributing these in a way that more women from places that don’t have these opportunities… It’s all about empowerment and education."
Marcela Kamphorst: "I wish that women were less afraid to fail. We are always taught that we have to be this kind of almost perfect person that has to be taken care of. There are all these fields we have to take care of like house, kids, career, and we are very much afraid to fail because we’re very much afraid of what’s going to happen if we do. And I want to take that off my shoulders and the shoulders of women around me… I would love to take that off of women’s minds.
It doesn’t matter. Just go for it, if it fails, then you can also do something else. Start from the beginning."
Taylor Record: "Girls are raised to be afraid. Afraid of doing things on our own. Of putting ourselves in situations where we are vulnerable. Of our declining value as we age. Of being the right kind of women. Of being assertive and coming across as a bitch. But I wish that instead of being afraid, we learned to be assertive and trust the strength of our bodies and minds and our ability to make life whatever we want it to be.
I’ve been traveling alone since I was 19. I traveled through Asia, and the Middle East, and parts of South America on my own. I moved to Europe and hitchhiked in Patagonia and jumped on amazing opportunities that I never would have had if I were waiting around for someone else to give me permission.
It’s still a daily struggle to overcome this script that there’s one right way to be a woman. That I’m doing it wrong. But there is so much opportunity once you stop letting your fear set your limits."
Olivia Czetwertynski: "I became a female entrepreneur in Spain at a time when the startup ecosystem didn't officially exist... being a woman and an entrepreneur never felt to be in opposition. On the contrary, it felt good to be different and to stand out from the crowd.
I was young and fearless. I had time. I had the privilege of being lucky, healthy, young, white, and without any real barriers. I had so many opportunities to collaborate with experienced people who helped me find my way. It was a lot of fun, and of course, a lot of pressure, but it wasn't difficult. At least until I had a child.
And for the first time in my life, I started seeing how individualistic our system is. It was extremely difficult to find the balance between being a mother and an entrepreneur. Could I take maternity leave without losing the clients and network I spent so much time building? Were other mothers able to run their business while their baby was sleeping? Would it always be this hard? This lonely? I wanted so badly to be able to do it all, to manage this project like I'd done so many times in business, yet it was so much harder than I could have imagined. I really wish someone had told me it was going to be hard."
Sanja Beronja: "In France, to be a woman means to be a super-achiever. Ambitious and high performing in her professional career, a caring mother and spouse, a woman who takes care of herself and, finally, a well-rounded social being who has a life outside of all professional and family activities. The result is that women are exposed to very high stress and still have impostor syndrome. They need to prove that they are capable of managing all spheres of their lives.
Is it the social pressure or the pressure that women put on themselves ? I believe it is both."
Fareen Shaikh: "Being a woman today means using your voice to empower others to influence a positive change. Women have realized that helping other women achieve their aspirations is as important as achieving their own. We’ve got to have each other’s back to bring about changes, let that be in a fight for the same opportunities or equal pay as men, we’ve got to do experience the journey together by helping each other out."
Vivian Duong: "I’d say someone that consistently inspires me is my mother. I think she’s really been a real rock and paved the way for how I think and how I navigate this world. Coming from our family which is very – not female dominated, but growing up with the type of family that I’ve had – I don’t really see this difference between the genders because it’s always been equals in our family. "
Robbin Remers: "I never really had a role model until the moment that I actually moved to Berlin. I met this girl who is now one of my very good friends. And I really started being inspired by her a lot. And so, I guess now my friends are my biggest inspiration."