They are women, hear them roar.
And for the past 14 months — through two Januaries of vigorous rallies and months of surging #MeToo and #TimesUp movements — that roar has turned into a global outcry.
On Thursday, organizers of International Women’s Day 2018 hope to capitalize on that momentum and crank up the equality meter even more with #PressforProgress — a push for gender parity worldwide.
Women’s voices first rang out at marches on President Trump’s first full day in office in 2017 and again a year later. But they've taken on added potency as public revelations about sexual harassment and assault galvanized countries last fall. A World Economic Forum Gender Gap report that showed parity more than 200 years away further fueled the fire.
Women’s Day organizers see the wave of activism as a critical moment.
Gender parity is under an intense spotlight, Glenda Stone, partnerships director for International Women’s Day, told USA TODAY.
She pointed to more coverage of gender issues by news outlets, a robust female presence on social media and the development of inclusive workplaces. There is a “lot more awareness-raising campaigns and an overall expectation by young populations that society will be more equal," Stone said.
A poll out Monday of 27 countries underlined the challenges ahead.
While sexual harassment is seen as the biggest equality issue facing women, many — 50% — still believe women who come forward aren’t taken seriously and reports are ignored, according to the poll by Ipsos in collaboration with International Women’s Day.
Misperceptions about equality and the frequency of harassment also prevail.
For example, 60% of women in the U.S. say they have experienced sexual harassment — but the average guess by survey participants was 57%. And there was a gender divide: women guessing 64% and men 49%. In other countries it was more stark: In Britain, 68% of women say they have been harassed; poll respondents thought it was closer to 55%.
And while nearly half — 47% — think that equality between men and women will be attained in their lifetime, the poll showed a sense of false optimism: In the U.S., people believe women will be paid equally by 2028. But the poll's authors point to data from the Institute for Women's Policy Research that says the gap won’t be closed until 2059 at the current rate of progress.
International Women's Day provides outlets to accelerate change, organizers believe. There are rallies, marches, networking events, performances and more.
“Activity varies across countries from grass-roots activism and local celebrations … to large, international corporate conferences,” Stone said. “All events are powerful catalysts for awareness raising.”
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