The unintended consequences of International Women’s Day

Another year has passed and we are here again to celebrate International Women’s Day.  This year though, I have mixed feelings about the event.  As a woman and mother, I naturally want to see more women and girls achieving their full potential.   I fully support activities which highlight their talents and support women and girls in the workplace, at home and at school.  However, during the last year I have seen what can happen when this focus has unintended consequences.

Recently, my son came home from school upset and angry.  My first response was to assume he was being bullied.  As with most assumptions this was incorrect.  The cause of his distress was a pattern of events in the classroom where he felt the boys were being unfairly treated, specifically not being given opportunities to participate in activities, and being reprimanded for talking whilst the girls were not.

Now, sometimes he can be prone to exaggeration, but on this occasion his level of distress made me think, “This can’t be right, what is happening which makes some boys feel disempowered and lacking in confidence?”

Surely as women we don’t want our boys to grow up experiencing the discrimination and bias that we have been subjected to?

So, is there an international men’s day?  There is.  It is celebrated on 19 November, and this year I will be celebrating that too.

If you are involved in leading or championing change, be aware that actions sometimes have unintended consequences.  Using perspectives mapping can help reveal potential barriers and negative outcomes in advance, and enable you to adjust your approach.

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