During the month of March, Twitter hashtags, Instagram stories, and Snapchat filters celebrating women fill our social media feeds as a result of Women’s Appreciation Month. Although the purpose of this month is to uplift female voices and bring awareness to women’s issues, there are a few problems with this being a ‘trend’ that only lasts four weeks.
Not only does social media take advantage of the traction, but brands use the month to make money. Instead of reflecting on the accomplishments that women have achieved in the past decade, brands focus on what they can do to make their product more profitable.
For example, Hershey recently designed new packaging for their chocolate that displays the word ‘SHE’ and Barbie released doll versions of important figures in women’s history such as Rosa Parks and Amelia Earhart. Although female representation is important, these actions feel more like marketing ploys or forms of performative activism.
In order to properly celebrate women, we need a more long-term and sustainable approach. We should support female entrepreneurs, read books by female authors, get to know women in politics, and support women’s nonprofit organizations. These steps can help create real change for women and are a better way to appreciate their contributions to society.
During Women’s History month this year, sexual assault and harassment became a more prevalent topic of conversation, highlighting the importance of women and their rights. The slogan “she was just walking home” flooded social media after a young woman in South London was assaulted and murdered on her walk home late at night. Women are fed up with the narrative that sexual assault is the fault of the victim and are fighting back by bringing greater awareness to the issue.
Conversations about sexual assault, female empowerment, and women’s history shouldn’t be limited to a month. It isn’t just a trend on social media that goes in and out of style. Appreciation for women and efforts to combat gender inequalities should last all year long. My advice to men is to listen, take women’s experiences seriously, and make a commitment to being a part of the solution.