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What do women really think about brands celebrating International Women’s Day

It’s International Women’s Day today. I know because my emails are telling me so. But why? Why are brands telling me to celebrate women today? Why shouldn’t brands celebrate women every day?

We asked everyone at The Clearing who identifies as female a simple question:
“What are your thoughts on brands that celebrate International Women's Day?”
And the responses ranged from the good, to the bad, to the damning.


The good…

 “Sometimes the way brands use IWD is patronising but also it's just a nice simple day celebrating women and their achievements. I think it becomes too much when they talk about big issues – like the gender pay gap – only on that day, but there’s nothing wrong with just a celebration. It’s like self-care – you’d do it all year, but on your birthday it’s even more special kinda thing.

 On IWD I just want to forget about the inequalities, chill and relax and enjoy. I would much rather tell men off on the other 364 days!”

Anna Żulicka, Designer


The bad…

“Every day should be a celebration of women! And I have no idea what you’re supposed to do for it - is it just about highlighting women in the workplace? Or brands that are run by women? It all feels a bit contrived and patronising to me…”

Daisy Noble, Strategy Director


“We shouldn’t need one specialised day to talk about the gender pay gap, celebrate women’s work or turn a logo pink… I think they should be talked about all year round, or it just seems contrived, and pretty cringe.”

Sophie Martin, Account Manager


“Today, my ClassPass app asked me to 'support a woman-owned business'. Brands already have all of my money every day of every year, so I feel icky when I’m asked to do more! Rather than a short-lived campaign, I’d like to see brands show sustained progress across a longer period. LinkedIn Learning unlocking courses for the rest of March is a good example of more meaningful, thoughtful engagement.”

Isabel Maguire, Strategist


And the damning…

“A lot of brands need to re-examine what they’re drawing attention to on International Women’s Day. Many don’t comment on issues that disproportionately affect women in the workplace (like childcare inequality).

 But if businesses are going for a more generic message about celebrating diversity and busting conventions, why not celebrate the full spectrum of people challenging gender perceptions in the workplace? (Non-binary people, transgender people, feminine-presenting men). Stock-photos of women smiling in generic offices just betray a dated perception that it’s exciting for women to be in certain industries… without actually helping them get into those industries.”

Rose Allert, Writer


“Much the same as Valentine’s Day, it’s taking something that should be celebrated all year round and using it for some kind of gain. And that gain rarely has a meaningful or lasting positive impact for women. Often brands use it to jump on the feminism bandwagon. But a truly feminist organisation would treat people equally regardless of their gender and celebrate all people every day of the year – not just for one day. And if it’s a social purpose the brand wants to align with, then again, there should be a deeper meaning and a long-term strategy. Not just a tweet and a hashtag.”

Hope Lowe, Senior Writer