‘Discover what makes a (her)o’ – A look back on International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day came around again on 8 March and celebrated the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women – however, it also begged the question of whether this occasion should last more than a day. This year’s #BalanceForBetter campaign highlighted the importance of a gender-balanced world. But, should this be something we should always be striving towards rather than just once a year? Approach PR MD Suzanne‘s daughter Melissa takes a look at how change can be more permanent. 

Captain Marvel

I have to applaud Disney’s clever marketing scheme for its most recent Marvel release. Dropping the new female-led superhero film ‘Captain Marvel’ on International Women’s Day will have certainly earned somebody a thumbs up from the main mouse. As much as I try to fight it, I can’t help but get caught in the trap of the campaign. Of course, I understand their main motivation was to generate blockbuster opening weekend sales. But, they’ve actually tapped into something very important in the process.

How has this affected society?

The focus of femininity has too long been on fragility. The woman is so often an accessory to a male hero. Her purpose? To demonstrate and accentuate his success. Consequentially, this has had terrible repercussions in the world we live in. Strong women are often referred to as brash, bossy or ballbreakers when conducting leadership behaviours as we associate them with masculinity. The acceptance of catcalling or inappropriate male advances on women is common. This is because they’ve so often been reduced to sexual mechanisms. Not to mention, the derogatory use of the word ‘girl’ as a means to insult others. This constantly reaffirms female inferiority to ‘masculine power’. All of these behaviours work to establish women as second rate citizens, and the majority are so normalised we don’t even bat an eyelid in the face of these often daily experiences.

How can we change?

And so, I believe, it is vital to get these powerful female role models out into the world for children to grow up with. As inspirational as they are, children don’t understand impassioned speeches, marches or political acts. As basic as it may appear, appealing to younger generations is the most effective way to evoke change. The focus should not be on changing the minds of the population, but on raising one which doesn’t need convincing.

However, we must be wary in the introduction of change; persistent accusations and the creation of barriers can only exacerbate the problem. As far as I’m concerned, Captain Marvel is a great 21st century role model and her strength is something I will try and channel in my everyday life. But as much as there is strength in being strong, there is also a strength in the admission of weakness; we cannot do this alone. International Women’s Day doesn’t get its power from the individual women, but from the solidarity it brings between women and men. It is not about division, but in the strength which is gained by seeing everyone in the world, not just one half. And, hopefully, if we come together enough, International Women’s Day will run on and on, until we no longer need a day at all.

The strength for change can only come from unity and not division. Yes, Captain Marvel is a hero and a serious force in her own right. But, imagine how much stronger that force would be if she teamed up and fought alongside the collective power of the Avengers.

How do you encourage equality in a younger generation? We’d love to hear your thoughts, let us know at @Approach_pr!

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