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Giving International Women’s Day a Miss This Year

By Joanne Jacobs

Over the past 10 years or so I’ve spent 3 International Women’s Days at the United Nations in New York City – showing off I know! I’ve attended events in Canberra and when in my home town of Sydney, been nominated for awards – for basically just doing my job – quaffed and ate with the best and of course spoke at the obligatory panel event perched on a stool with a microphone.

As I get more curmudgeonly at 52 I don’t quite have the fire in my belly about IWD this year. I am acutely aware that women across the world are still disproportionately negatively impacted by every damn thing really, from climate change to violence, and everything in between. We seem to make miniscule inroads of change all at a glacial pace. Maybe I’m just too impatient.

So, I’ve declined 4 rather nice invitations this year at last count (always nice to be asked) and chosen to stay home with Oscar the dog and work on something where I feel I can make a difference, a new peak advocacy body, CDVA (Childhood Domestic Violence Australia).

This week the IWD ‘celebrations’ started up and the 8th will be the big one and I wonder what impact it really makes after all. At Disruptor’s Handbook we are always inquiring about the way we and our clients do things and the corresponding impact. By extending inquiry to the impact or otherwise of IWD I’m just not so sure, apart from a feelgood thing. Maybe that’s ok, maybe it’s enough.

But what I have gleaned over the past years working in the women’s sector and domestic violence particularly is that we need to do more to achieve gender equality and safety for women – oh and ‘their children’ – than teach healthy relationships. There’s a piece missing I believe, and that’s support for the kids living with their mothers in domestic violence circumstances, who themselves are experiencing childhood domestic violence. Being told via a pedagogic mode in the school context that boys should treat you with respect yet being at home living in trauma while experiencing violence from someone you love is a total mind bend. Where do these kids go? At the moment, not very many options.

So, yes, this year I’m a piker, I’m tapping out for the purposes of IWD and focusing on childhood domestic violence, something that’s bugged me through 3 jobs now, where merely advocating about it in one job got me a knuckle rap of mammoth proportions, ‘we’re about women only’, they said, and yes I know, time to cue the ‘what the…?’ emoji.

On Friday the 8th I’ll be in my PJs looking forward and not back, figuring out where I can make my bit of impact, however small. And just quietly, I have a sneaking suspicion supporting kids and adult survivors with their experience of childhood domestic violence is likely to be a win for women anyway.

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