Every year on March 8th International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated all around the world. This day traces back to the early women’s rights campaigns of the 1910s and became a global holiday in 1975, when the UN first celebrated it as part of the International Women’s Year. IWD acknowledges the big and small achievements on the path to gender justice and encourages everyone to get involved in this journey. Yet, it also serves as a reminder of all the work that still needs to be done, exposing the countless injustices and difficulties that individuals still encounter because of their gender.

In the last decades the gender equality movement has grown to be not only more powerful but more diverse. This meant a shift from understanding ‘gender issues’ merely in terms of heterosexual cisgender women, especially by including concerns of the LGBTQ+ community in claims for justice, thus acknowledging that many marginalised groups are equally suffering under the patriarchal system.

However, the achievements in making the gender movement more inclusive are not uncontested. In recent years, anti-trans ‘radical’ feminists have aimed to exclude trans women from women spaces and movements, suggesting that transgender rights jeopardise the fight for women’s rights. Let us thus also use this IWD to bring more visibility and acceptance for trans women/trans feminine identified people and their indispensable part in the women’s rights movement. Equally, this means to explicitly include non-binary and genderqueer people in initiatives like the IWD, as we are only as strong as we are inclusive.

Another step in making the fight for women’s rights more inclusive is acknowledging that a person is shaped not by one but various identities. A woman is not just a woman but also a subject of class, sexuality, ethnicity, and nationality. Sustainable social change can only be achieved when we recognise these various potential dimensions of injustice a person may face. This IWD and beyond, we want to reject the idea of a ‘single story’ and instead value the different histories and experiences of marginalised or oppressed groups.

The theme for this year’s IWD is #BreakTheBias, emphasising the importance of challenging preconceptions and misunderstandings to create a gender-just future. We all rely on pre-understandings every day as our brains adapt shortcuts to process huge amounts of information. However, if these partialities preclude us from an objective analysis and lead to a preference or aversion for individuals or groups of people, they can be harmful.

Gender bias—that is, preferring a person or group because of their gender—is one of the many forms that our biases take, but discriminatory judgments may also be based on other characteristics like sexuality, class, age, or ethnicity. Biases may lead us to underestimate a person’s capability and competences (performance bias) or to being drawn to people who are similar to us in terms of appearance, beliefs, and background (affinity bias).

Fortunately, we are not powerless in the face of our biases; we can break them. We need to be self-reflective and question ourselves and others to become aware of our prejudices. We need to start supportive conversations, pointing out how certain behaviour reinforces stereotypes and how valuable difference is. We need to raise awareness in our communities, motivating others to become agents of change. We need to take tangible action, however small it may be, to promote an equality and justice for all genders. This will be an ongoing process but as long as we get involved, keep learning and better ourselves we will see change for a better future for all.


“We work tirelessly through having conversations, training, events and campaigns to raise awareness of injustices experienced in the U.K. and globally. Our work will not stop until everyone is treated fairly, respectfully and equally. International Women’s Day is an important marker in the calendar to raise the profile of the many injustices women and girls experience. We are a trans and non binary inclusive and intersectional thinking and acting organisation, not afraid to have difficult conversations in the ongoing debates around sex and gender. As a proud feminist I am adding my voice to #BreakTheBias”   

– Berkeley Wilde – Executive Director


Article written by Johanna Blimlinger for the Diversity Trust.

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