Sophie Cousins

International Women’s Day on 8 March is an annual event, recognised by the UN since the mid-1970s, that celebrates women’s achievements and raises awareness of gender inequality. (It has little connection to the first International Women’s Day, held on 19 March 1911, and planned at the International Socialist Women’s Conference in Copenhagen the previous year.) The UN’s slogan for 2022 is ‘Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow’.

If you search for IWD online, the top hit is, a website that promises to celebrate women, provides guidance and resources to support IWD events, and offers a way to donate to female-focused charities. The site’s hashtag, #BreakTheBias, has gained immense popularity on social media and has been adopted by various organisations, companies, institutions and celebrities around the world.

It’s unclear who runs the website, which does not appear to have any direct links to the UN. It lists thirty or so corporate ‘supporters’, including Northrop Grumman, one of the world’s largest weapons manufacturers and military technology providers, and Lockheed Martin, the American aerospace, arms, defence, information security and technology company.

Sarah Hawkes, the director of the Centre for Gender and Global Health at University College London, told me she was distressed at the number of organisations using the #BreakTheBias hashtag without seeming to know who was supporting it. ‘What we’re seeing is a sophisticated version of something that isn’t new,’ she said: ‘the corporate sector capturing “wokeism” to protect its shareholder value, to protect capitalism.’

‘Our females have rewarding STEM careers across all our engineering groups,’ Northrop Grumman says, while Lockheed Martin boasts that ‘diversity and inclusion are the foundation of our culture, and reflect our values of doing what’s right, respecting others and performing with excellence.’

Last year the Lancet produced a series on ‘women’s and children’s health in conflict settings’. It estimated that in 2017 armed conflict affected at least 630 million women and children around the world: that’s one in ten women and 16 per cent of children. The researchers also found that 16 million women and 36 million children had been displaced that year. ‘Women of reproductive age living near high-intensity conflicts have three times higher mortality than do women in peaceful settings, and more than ten million deaths in children younger than five years between 1995 and 2015 globally can be directly and indirectly attributed to conflict.’


  • 4 March 2022 at 9:37pm
    staberinde says:
    So what do you want, then?

    Do you want world peace? Send Putin a poem about the plight of women in conflict zones and see where that gets you.

    Do you want the West to stop making arms? Russia and China would be delighted.

    Do you want to ban all arms exports from the West? People will buy them from others. And the women of Ukraine won't thank you.

    Do you want arms manufacturers to stop supporting IWD? The women who work for them might not thank you either.

    Perhaps you want to see more women in STEM careers, but not in industries you object to? If so, maybe you could enlighten us about where you feel it's appropriate for women to work?

    Incoherent, lazy thinking.

    • 5 March 2022 at 12:48pm
      Delaide says: @ staberinde
      What an odd rant. If you want to see something incoherent, look in a mirror.

    • 8 March 2022 at 3:59pm
      CollinR says: @ Delaide
      I was also hoping for ironic humor but I got a broken brain at the end.

  • 5 March 2022 at 1:58pm
    Margaret Tudeau-clayton says:
    Once again the elephant in the room is not mentioned: the conflict between gender ideology and the rights of biological women. I presume the tendentious word 'biais' is hte biased way of referring to the struggle of women to preserve these rights.

    • 7 March 2022 at 5:42am
      Higgs Boatswain says: @ Margaret Tudeau-clayton
      I'm not at all sure that any such 'conflict' really exists - I don't see much evidence that the rights of "biological women" are threatened by "gender ideology" - but I doubt that the civil wars raging within Britain's departments of English Lit and Gender Studies are a matter of primary concern to the women and children displaced by war.

    • 9 March 2022 at 5:09pm
      Dan says: @ Higgs Boatswain
      Well I suppose if you don't see it then it can't exist. That said, if you're looking at sorting out the problems of 630m women and children affected by war before you get to the lesser problems, you're unlikely to see much of anything.

    • 10 March 2022 at 12:12pm
      Delaide says: @ Dan
      For heaven's sake, they are completely different subjects. They can be addressed individually.

  • 9 March 2022 at 6:12pm
    Adelia Bertetto says:
    Interesting piece of information that gives food for thought.
    Thank you

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