By Anna Hunter, OPEN Media.

We have made incredible progress as a society over the last century in relation to gender injustice, but we should not forget that sexism remains a huge issue in our society – women experience sexism daily, and misogyny remains hugely deep-rooted in our culture. There is a modern belief that sexism against women is no longer a prominent issue, due to women now being able to vote, serve on a jury, open a bank account, and really just having basic human rights – this in itself, is damaging. International Women’s Day keeps these issues at the forefront of everyone’s minds, it celebrates women’s achievements, raises awareness about discrimination, drives discussion about what a gender-equal world looks like, but most of all it
celebrates differences.

My name is Anna, Marketing and Insight Assistant at OPEN Media, and I will be proudly talking about what OPEN did for International Women’s Day 2023, and also what the day means to me.

For International Women’s Day 2023, OPEN partnered with CPB London to be the exclusive out-of-home outdoor media partner for the ‘Double Standards’ campaign. The latest campaign aims to challenge the reader to focus on their subconscious use of gendered language, and ‘change the words, change the narrative’ e.g. how we will openly call men ‘assertive’ in a good sense, but women with the same qualities will be labeled ‘bossy’. And then potentially the most common, and oldest example of gendered language; calling men who are sexually active ‘players’ but flip the narrative and change it to a woman, she will be called a ‘slut’.

One in five British men think it’s never problematic to use sexist language, and a third don’t think about why they use it (National poll of 2000 men, February 2022). This is why OPEN, and I, are so proud to be part of such a poignant campaign. We hope the campaign provokes more thought about the sexism people use in their everyday language, open things up for safe discussions, and spotlight the harmful nature of so-called ‘bantering’ phrases that many use as a means to justify using sexist language.

To celebrate this campaign, OPEN hosted an International Women’s Day lunch in The Ivy London on the 8th March. This event was a success, and it was so fulfilling to see everyone’s hard work come to life. We first heard from Helen James, CEO of CPB London, who talked about the campaign and the rationale behind it. It was so inspiring to see just how proud Helen was of the whole campaign and the way it will positively impact today’s social climate. We enjoyed some lovely food and enjoyed chatting with one another. Being in a room full of such amazing women was inspiring, but being able to talk about the campaign and why we all felt so passionately about it really elevated the sense of women’s empowerment that was already present in the room.

Everyday sexism and the use of gendered language should not just be shouted about on International Women’s Day, but should be discussed every day. The importance and significance of this campaign in particular meant OPEN didn’t want to just stop talking about it after our lunch. On the day after, the 9th March, our CRO Fiona Ravlic was invited to speak on a panel at the Goodchat panel debate, hosted by Goodstuff. Fiona, alongside 4 other inspiring women, discussed a variety of topics in line with the campaign, including; how we can change our words, how we can change the narrative, why the campaign resonated with each, and personal thoughts on the campaign.

Unfortunately, every woman has experienced some form of sexism in their life, and girls experience it from a young age, with 66% of 16-18 year old girls having experienced sexist language in schools (Womankind, 2022). My first experience of sexism was in primary school at 8 years old being told I couldn’t play football because I was a girl, which looking back at now is completely ridiculous, but at age 8 this stuck with me. This is unfortunately not the only, nor will it be the last time I will experience or witness sexist language, but this will not stop me from being myself, just like it didn’t stop me kicking around a football with the boys in school. I am proud to be a woman, and I’m so proud to be a part of such an amazing company that values women, and are constantly doing things to spread awareness about the everyday gendered language in society. A quote I like to particularly go by, and one I think everyone should hear is from Rowan Blanchard “I think the most powerful thing a woman can have is confidence.”

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