By Bianca Garner
The 8th March is International Women’s Day, a day devoted to celebrating the achievements of women all across the globe and throughout history. I wasn’t aware of the fact that International Women’s Day had been running for so long, apparently “It began life as National Women’s Day in the United States back in February 1909” which is astonishing to me as I had been under the impression that it was a recent thing.
According to the World Economic Forum, this year’s theme is #BreaktheBias – “and campaigners are urging people to call out gender stereotyping and discrimination when they see it”. There is a ‘call to arms’ for all of us to “actively call out gender bias, discrimination and stereotyping each time you see it”. Discrimination can come in all shapes and sizes, you may not even be aware that there is an act of discrimination occurring but you should always take the time to think about your words and actions. A little respect for another person goes a long way. Here at In Their Own League, we are very much about breaking down biases and deconstructing gender stereotypes. Hollywood still has an issue with how the present women and anyone they deem as an ‘other’ in their films.
In recent years, there have been slight improvements but racism and sexism is deeply rooted into the movie business. “Racism, in the form of job exclusion and racially stereotyped roles, has defined the Hollywood film industry since its birth in the early 1900s,” the sociologist Nancy Wang Yuen writes in her book, Reel Inequality: Hollywood Actors and Racism. (quote from here). So, we are fully behind #BreaktheBias at we believe that the film industry needs to become more diverse so there is more diversity being properly represented on the big screen.
If you’re reading this piece then I can assume that you are familiar with the struggles that women from all backgrounds have faced over the many many centuries. And, all around the world, there are still women who have to endure hardship and suffering. In the West, it’s very easy to forget the rest of the world. While we still have our issues and struggles here, there are many women who are less fortunate than ourselves. For example, according to unwomen.org:
“Women make up more than two-thirds of the world’s 796 million illiterate people…just 39 percent of rural girls attend secondary school. This is far fewer than rural boys (45 percent), urban girls (59 percent) and urban boys (60 percent)...Children of mothers with no education in the Latin American and Caribbean region are 3.1 times more likely to die than those with mothers who have secondary or tertiary education, and 1.6 more likely to die that those whose mothers have primary-level education.“
Due to the educational restraints that many women face across the world, there are very few female filmmakers from the likes of Latin America, India, South Asia and the Middle East who have managed to have a successful film career on par with their male counterparts. Those who have been able to make films have struggled with their films being distributed on a world wide scale. However, there have been filmmakers such as Margot Benacerraf, Marta Rodríguez and Paz Encina who have received international success and recognition for their work.
Another interesting statistic that I want to bring to your attention is as follows:
“Men’s average wages are higher than women’s in both rural and urban areas. Rural women typically work longer hours than men, due to additional reproductive, domestic and care responsibilities.”Unwomen.org
It’s not just the case for Second and Third World countries. Apparently, “In 2020, women’s gross hourly earnings were on average 13.0 % below those of men in the EU.” The gender pay gap in the United States is also an issue with the non-adjusted average female’s annual salary is 79% of the average male salary, compared to 95% for the adjusted average salary. Women will be more likely to end up living in poverty in their old age as they will not have the same amount of money available to them in their pensions and saving as a result of the gender pay gap.
The gap between women and men doesn’t simply exist in terms of wages. There is also a continuous gap in terms of active leadership and decision making. According to Unwomen.org:
“A large gender gap remains in women’s access to decision-making and leadership…Educated women are more likely to have greater decision-making power within their households.”
Another interesting statistic to ponder is as follows:
“Women only hold about 10% of the top executive positions at U.S. companies, with women making up just 5% of chief executives of S&P 1500 companies. “Silicon Valley Bank, Women in Technology Leadership 2019
Next time you watch a film or a TV show, be on the look out for how many positions of power and/or leadership are portrayed by a male actor. Ask yourself whether or not, these characters could have been rewritten to be a female character. If women are being continuously portrayed in films as simply the ‘love interest’ or the ‘secondary character’ then what will young girls be led to believe in terms of their worth?
In order to #Breakthebias we also must work together to improve their lives of women all across the world. Women need to know their self-worth and know that they have the support of others to pursue their dreams and aspirations. Remember, you can do your part to help women by calling out discrimination and gender bias whenever you encounter it. By working together, we can improve life for each and every woman on this planet. Happy International Women’s Day!
Latin American female filmmakers: https://mubi.com/lists/latin-american-female-directors