By Lubna Hamdan
Businesses are capitalising on IWD, but they're doing it the wrong way
This morning I received an email from a delivery company that said: “Treat the women in your office this Women’s Day. Find the closest go-getting woman to you, give her a delicious cookie and thank her for being her.”
Now some women may find this patronising, but who doesn’t like free cookies? Sure we would have preferred equal pay, but hey, you can’t have it all.
Within minutes I received another email that said: “In honour of International Women’s Day, [x establishment] will celebrate the fantastic achievements accomplished by women across the UAE, offers a special discount of 40 percent for entry tickets on the 8th of March.”
This really struck a nerve. Because the discount isn’t even reserved for women. It’s for everyone. So even on a day dedicated to us entirely, we have to share our discounts.
But my ultimate favourite is a café offering “High Rise Pancakes” in recognition of gender equality.
The email read: “For one day only all strong women and men alike will be able to order a limited edition version of the High Rise Pancakes in recognition of gender equality this International Women’s Day 2020.”
They really made an effort with that one.
But it’s not that businesses should be blamed for trying to cash in on IWD. It’s the same as flower shops hiking their prices on Valentine’s Day and airlines raising rates ahead of Christmas and Eid holidays. As a business you want to maximise your sales and will do so at any given opportunity.
But at least be smart about it.
If you’re a cookie business then maybe give away free cookies and win over female customers. If you’re an entertainment venue then maybe introduce a women’s empowerment campaign to raise awareness for visitors. If you’re a café then consider promoting a deserving female employee. If you’re a corporate then open a nursery in-office to help working mothers balance work and life. That’s much better than adding a mediocre item to your menu that does absolutely nothing for women fighting for more rights.
Yet it’s not just the businesses belittling IWD. It’s incredible how many emails we’ve received from women putting themselves forward for media interviews for just having a job. They don’t necessarily have an opinion about anything or want to share any interesting industry insights.
And I realise that many women struggle to get a job to begin with, but perhaps we can set the bar higher than to pat ourselves on the back simply for getting the job. Because if we do that then we are setting ourselves up for failure. We’re teaching younger women that good enough is enough, that settling because hey, at least you got the job, is enough.
And that is why we still need IWD. We just have to make it great again - even if it means doing it one tough cookie at a time.