International Women's Day

by Jade Lawless

 

Inspiring Inclusion: A Counselling and Psychotherapy Perspective on International Women’s Day 2024

 

In a world where there seems to be a holiday for almost every occasion, I am sure there are many that would question the significance of International Women’s Day. In today’s modernized society you might be forgiven for thinking that women have achieved what they set out to do in the establishment of such an occasion way back in the early 1900’s. And while that may be true in the grand scheme of things, do women really share parity of esteem with the men of the world?

 

The aim of International Women’s Day when it was launched in 1909 was to highlight women’s oppression and inequality and to promote and spur change for women. Today, in 2024, the theme of ‘Inspiring Inclusion’ is in that same bracket, albeit set in a different context. The vision is to celebrate difference and inspire equality across genders.

 

Yes, women have come a long way in the history books, but this year International Women’s Day is not just about encouraging and recognising the achievements of women, it is about creating environments where every woman feels safe, valued and empowered to achieve whatever it is that they desire to achieve – that is equality and that is inclusion.

 

When we look at this theme through the lens of counselling and psychotherapy, fostering inclusivity, safety, value and empowerment is the bedrock of promoting mental health and well-being. In the therapeutic community we are acutely aware of the damaging effects that not feeling seen, not feeling heard and not feeling valued plays on a person’s sense of self and their experience of struggle in relationships, in the world of work and in society in general.

 

Despite the growth in society and the rise of women stepping into their own power, within the therapeutic space it is plain to see that women continue to experience gender-based discrimination, inequality, pay disparity, glass ceilings and higher levels of violence in intimate relationships. The world is still not a safe space for women, let alone an equal or inclusive one.

 

A really interesting and important concept when considering this topic is that of ‘intersectional feminism’ which claims that women’s lives are impacted by multiple systems of oppression. Simply put, this refers to the fact that it is not solely about being a woman, it is about being a woman and your race, being a woman and your sexuality, being a woman and your socio-economic status, being a woman and your body shape, etc. Women experience multiple forms of discrimination complicated further by multiple different common factors. For example, a woman may experience a pay gap discrimination and that woman may also be further discriminated in this area due to their race. In the counselling space, this highlights the need even further to give a voice to all women and mirror true acceptance, validation and empowerment that can hopefully spill out into the wider society and strengthen down through future generations.

 

So, on this International Women’s Day 2024, let’s amplify the voices of women and work towards a future where ALL women are safe, seen, heard and valued.

 

Written by Jade Lawless. PCI College Academic Director



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