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The #MeToo Movement and International Women’s Day

Women's Rights Goes Global

#MeToo and International Women’s Day came together this week to make global headlines. With the 8th annual installment of International Women’s Day, women’s rights advocates are riding a wave of momentum to push for further social, economic, and political reform.  #MeToo is gaining traction not only in the United States where it originated but has also spread to almost every region of the world.  Over the past year, the #MeToo movement has appeared in Google searches in 196 countries.  From Guatemala to Saudi Arabia, from Iran to Chile, from Nigeria to the Philippines, from Spain to India, the #MeToo Movement is growing by the day and adding new issues to the concerns that have defined it to this point.

#MeToo and International Women's Day
A demonstrator chants over a megaphone during a one day strike to defend women’s rights on International Women’s Day in Madrid, Spain. (Pablo Cuadra—Getty Images)

#Me Too and Women’s Rights

The #MeToo movement burst into the news last fall with a tweet by actress Alyssa Milano. Soon after, a Twitter hashtag campaign drew attention to the work of civil rights activist, Tarana Burke.  #MeToo focuses mainly on sexual harassment and sexual assault, particularly in Hollywood. Time Magazine’s recognition of “The Silence Breakers”, women who had spoken out about past abusive behavior, as its 2017 “Person of the Year” illustrates its impact.

Yet many women believe that the long-term success of reform efforts will require broader social change.  Activists are using the opportunity to raise awareness of gender equity in the workplace, restrictions on women’s freedom in many countries and the need for political reform to encourage a larger role for women in the political process.

Sexual Assault

Women across the globe are using the momentum to draw attention to issues of sexual violence in their countries as well.

Gender Equity in the Workplace

Scholars have long argued that gender equity in the workplace contributes to economic growth.  #MeToo and International Women’s Day have drawn attention to this issue as well.  

#MeToo and International Women's Day
Suu Kyi’s speech marked the third International Women’s Day celebrated in Myanmar under a civilian government.

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

CARE, a not-for-profit organization that combats global poverty by empowering women, released a study this week that measured attitudes toward women in 8 countries.  CARE hopes to use the global headlines generated by #MeToo and International Women’s Day to bring about real reform. While issuing the report, CARE’s president and CEO Michelle Nunn commented, “Being expected to have sex with your employer — that’s not a job description, it’s sexual abuse. And it speaks to the global epidemic of harassment and abuse in our workplaces.”

Among the report’s findings:

  • 62% of men in Egypt said it was sometimes or always acceptable for an employer to expect intimate relations with employees.
  • In India, more than half of the men surveyed believed that it was always or sometimes acceptable for men to rank female colleagues based on their appearance.

Personal Freedoms

#MeToo and International Women’s Day have drawn attention to laws that restrict women as well.

  • In Chile, Mujeres en Marcha Chile, an activist group, helped push through a law legalizing abortions in certain circumstances in 2016.  The group hopes that the #MeToo movement can help bring awareness to its goal of ensuring that all Chilean women have access to sexual and reproductive health services.
  • The #MyStealthyFreedom campaign, which began in Iran in 2014, has linked its own hashtag to the #MeToo movement.  #MyStealthyFreedom has drawn attention to the restrictions placed on women’s freedom through the enforcement of laws requiring the wearing of the hijab.

#MeToo Becomes Political

For the most part, #MeToo has not emphasized politics. However, some activists see the possibility of using the energy of the movement to push for broader political changes.

#MeToo and International Women's Day
Protesters shout slogans during a rally to mark International Women’s Day on March 8, 2018, in Manila, Philippines. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

#MeToo and International Women’s Day

But while the movement has made much progress globally, there is still work to be done. #MeToo and International Women’s Day have drawn attention to many of the challenges facing women in our modern world.  Drawing attention is good, but activists believe that real change is the true measure of success.    As CARE president Nunn contends,  “But the long-term test is not whether it brings down dozens of powerful men in the United States, but whether it lifts up millions of women around the world. And this survey tells us that women aren’t just hoping #MeToo will spark real change –- they’re expecting it.”

Thoughts on #MeToo and International Women’s Day?  Please leave them below.


Sources:

Research:  linklinklink; link                                  Images:  linklink; linklink

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