It’s International Women’s Day — a day full of corporate lunches, women’s brunches and lots of mini muffins. It’s a day that women across Australia join together to celebrate each other and focus on our plight for equality — with our employers often picking up the tab for breakfast.
So culturally entrenched has the International Women’s Day breakfast become, that there’s even a cute lapel pin to spread that exact message –“Less patriarchy more pastries”. And at Verve we wear that pin proudly.
But it hasn’t always been like this.
One hundred years ago, International Women’s Day was a radical protest movement, on the 8th of March 1917, poverty stricken women workers sparked the first day of the Russian Revolution. Three years earlier in 1914, the British suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst was arrested on her way to speak at an International Women’s Day event; her crime? Trying to change laws that discriminated against the rights of working women. In parts of the world women still risk arrest and harm by protesting on the 8th of March in 2019.
It’s a sign of how far we’ve come, and the battles that women before us have won, that International Women’s Day is now a day of such celebration in so many countries. It would have been unimaginable to Western women all those years ago who were fighting for their right to paid work, that in 2019, the ‘employers’ of women in Australia would be organising some of the nation’s largest gatherings.
At Verve, we love that International Women’s Day is such a day of celebration, yet we are also aware of how much still needs to be done — and ultimately how little social change has ever been achieved through the consumption of sweet bakery treats alone.
For many Australian women, the economic and social inequality we face is as deadly serious as it ever has been: the discrimination in Australia’s retirement savings system means that Australian women over 55 are the fastest growing group of people experiencing homelessness; twelve women this year have already died at the hand of their male partner; and Aboriginal women in Australia still face some of the greatest rates of poverty amongst women anywhere in the Western world.
The ambitious structural changes we need to affect change won’t be achieved over brunch, we need real individual and collective action. It’s why at Verve we focus not only on educating, coaching and supporting women -but also on advocating for a fairer financial system. It’s why we don’t invest in companies without a woman on their board, and more importantly why we refuse to put money into companies that are known to exploit or abuse women workers in their supply chain.
This International Women’s Day at Verve we’re starting with pastries, but our team (who have already moved their money away from companies that directly and indirectly harm women, our community and our planet) will be finishing the day with placards by joining an International Women’s Day march —because ultimately we need employers, politicians and industry to bring more than pastries to the table.
Join the International Women’s Day March near you (p.s. if you know of a march not listed let us know firstname.lastname@example.org):
Melbourne, 8 March, 5:30pm State Library
Sydney 9th March, 11am Hyde Park North, Archibald Fountain
Adelaide 8 March, 5:30pm, Hindmarsh Sq