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  • Writer's pictureArjanna van der Plas

I DON'T WANT TO HAVE AN OPINION ON THIS

I feel some pressure to either be for or against International Women’s Day - being the co-founder of a women’s network and all...


But to be honest, I don’t have a strong opinion, and I don’t really want to have one.


I dislike the current trend where everyone with a social media account is supposed to publicly take a stance on gender equality, climate change and the situation in Ukraine. Because in most cases, we simply don’t understand the full complexity of the topic at hand.


When it comes to IWD, sure, I am annoyed by all the pinkwashing that is currently happening on my Linkedin feed. And I can’t be bothered to go to yet another death-by-powerpoint event in a dusty conference room to discuss all the sad statistics about the gender pay gap.


At the same time, I also don’t get the ‘let’s ban IWD’ movement. Because I see some companies making wonderful efforts to truly celebrate their women, and slowly but steadily make their company culture more inclusive. And I love this video that was made for IWD, that I am sure is going to open some people’s eyes about what it means to be a woman in a leadership role.


I believe that more interesting than coming up with a black-and-white opinion, is to look at what IWD was created for, and see how we can achieve that.


Because, sure, there are some old-fashioned Swiss banks launching cringeworthy IWD campaigns, but I also know that there are employees within those same banks that quietly go the extra mile to boost their female colleagues’ careers, every single day.


And I notice that the collateral damage of all the IWD-bashing is that it kills the initiatives of those quiet heroes - because they’re afraid to get bashed too. And at the same time, we should feel the permission to gently challenge well-meaning initiatives that steer us in the wrong direction.


I used to like the phrase “strong opinions, loosely held”, but I’ve come to rethink it.


Strong opinions can be amazing, if they are actually robust and well-thought through. But most of us don’t take the time to really learn about all the complexities of gender equality, or China’s expansion strategy, or the future of AI.


So next time someone asks you your opinion about a complex societal topic, use it as an opportunity to explore the topic together with fresh eyes and an open mind, rather than dump some cliche statements on each other and move on to the next topic. I recently did this when asked about IWD, and it let to a beautiful conversation about the feminine economy that otherwise probably wouldn’t have been on my radar.


For tomorrow, I wish you a happy IWD, or a happy Friday - whatever you prefer!


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