IWD: the good, the bad and the blatant marketing

Today is International Women’s Day. As a proud feminist – whose views have only strengthened since I became a mum to two girls – I applaud this celebration of women’s strength and contributions to the world.  I also like that it provides a focal point to highlight the many injustices we encounter just because we happened to be born women.

I do, however, wish that this campaigning wasn’t so focused on a single day. Why does more than half the world’s population get a mere 24 hours in the limelight? What kind of archaic, depressing world do we still live in that a special day is still even necessary? 

At the agency, we subscribe to a service over which media outlets send out requests for spokespeople and information. I have lost count of how many ‘request for female CEO to profile on IWD’ notifications I’ve seen over the last couple of weeks. Why only profile them now? Why isn’t this an everyday request? Are there really so few candidates that they can all be written about in one day?

It might not be the intention, but this feels a little like tokenism to me. But I don’t blame the media for this rash of requests. I mean, if they were to profile a 40-something white male CEO on IWD, they’d be slated.

And then there are the brands that ride the IWD wave in order to a) show their solidarity, and b) (call me cynical) sell more stuff.

For example, this week we’ve seen UK brewer (and firm favourite in the Ayles household) Brew Dog launch a ‘satirical’ Pink IPA which is supposed to highlight that women can drink beer regardless of the colour of the label. (Confused? You’re not alone).

Judging by just about every night out I’ve ever had in my life, women have pretty much grasped that concept, but thanks for the ‘mansplain.’

To be fair, Brew Dog is donating some of its ‘pink’ profits to charity, but still, what is the actual point of this campaign other than grow its market? Donate the money anyway – at any time of year you like, the ironic, publicity-grabbing pink isn’t necessary.

Of course, movements like #MeToo and the UK Government’s initiative to make major employers disclose their gender pay gaps are hitting the news every day. Which is exactly as it should be. Equally, good news stories should also get fair billing 365 days a year.

It’s worth noting that it was also International Oreo Day this week. Women, just one in a procession of 365 things to celebrate this year.