Lauren Joyce on IWD: In defence of the cupcake

Lauren Joyce: “In all their sugary pink glory, what they represent is a moment to converse. To stop, grab a cup of tea, and take a moment to listen.”

By Lauren Joyce, Chief Strategy and Connections Officer at ARN

Today is International Women’s Day. A day designed to reflect on how much progress we’ve made towards equality for women and a day to acknowledge that there is still work to be done.

A few years ago, a campaign was launched across the media industry called Fck the Cupcakes. It is about moving beyond the tokenistic pink cupcakes adorned with hearts and IWD motifs to put real action in place for closing the opportunity gap between men and women. It is well-intentioned and absolutely necessary.

But as I sat eating my cereal this morning, I pondered my experience as a woman in the media industry, the theme of this year’s IWD – Invest in Women – and what needs to happen to close the gap.

And I realised that cupcakes are quite important really.

In all their sugary pink glory, what they represent is a moment to converse. To stop, grab a cup of tea, and take a moment to listen.

For me, the cupcakes are quite important. They stand for investing time in listening to different women’s experiences of the media: their opportunities to consume it, work in it, and be represented by it. To be heard. And for the people who choose to invest time in listening, to consider how different women’s experiences differ from their own and why that is the case.

It’s 2024 and today we will still hear some ask, “Why isn’t there an International Men’s Day?” There is. It’s 19 November. Feminism is still attached to negative connotations, despite the definition being: The belief that women and men should have equal opportunities.

And, we will hear people say, “but things are equal”: superficially they do seem that way because those before us have done so much work to close the gap, but systemic inequalities like unequal access to parental leave, or gender domination within some industries, continue to prevent equal opportunity for all and lead to outcomes like a 28% superannuation gap.

These are the discussions that we should be having today, on IWD.

It’s not a men versus women issue. It’s about equal opportunity.

This is the role of the cupcake: To give permission for people to stop, listen, and gain perspective on why investing time and money into creating equal opportunities is what is needed to help people, individually and collectively.

See also: How Publicis, Seven, Enero, and Ten are marking IWD

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