International Women's Day, Double Standards and Intersectionality
Today is once again International Women's Day. However, to many of us this one will seem different, given the chaos that has enveloped our world since Women's Day last year. Today as we celebrate the strength of those who identify as women and take on all that role entails, it is important to keep in mind the disproportionate effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on women, the double standards it has brought to light, and most importantly the fact that when we celebrate the strength of women, we acknowledge the intersectional identities different women have and how that shapes each women's unique experience.
Since the dawn of the pandemic, it has become more evident that those who identify with the roles of women are being held to a slightly different standard than those who identify with the roles of men. Whether it is our female public health leaders in Canada being select to more criticism than, or the pressure of childcare, online schooling and keeping the family together during this unprecedented time, the pandemic has exposed the double standards in our society even further, despite them having systemically existed for a very long time. As a result this year, Women's Day hits differently as we can ask ourselves, how has the pandemic affected the women in our lives and consequently given them the chance to shine and show their strength?
Finally, to say that if this pandemic has shown anything in how individuals cope, it is the importance of our intersectional identities; while there are similarities, every single women's experience is unique based on the intersection of her different identities (for example ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion and culture). It is important to keep in mind that we are all holistic beings, a mosaic of different identities and groups and that this shapes how we relate to and see our world. And to remember that International Women's Day is not just about the singular identity as a woman, instead it is about the mix of all the unique identities and experiences that those who identify as women bring to the table and share their power in.