Blog Post, Feminist Themed, Occupational Therapy

It’s International Women’s Day 2023 – What might this years theme mean to occupational therapy #EmbraceEquity #IWD2023

Acknowledgment –  International woman’s day is a celebration of all women, woman who are born woman or later become women. It’s important to understand intersectionality when exploring woman’s issues. People who identify as none binary need to also be recognised, they will experiences even greater inequity, all in society should understand and work to break down barriers.   This website has an accessible feature, that allows different accessible formats by simply clicking on a button labelled ‘Accessibility Menu’ that appears in green on all pages. It will provide you with a number of options to change the appearance to meet your accessibility needs.  This communication has been written by a dyslexic person. If you have any trouble with the meaning of any of the sentences or words, please do not be afraid to ask for clarification. I’m #MadeByDyslexia – expect creative thinking & creative spelling.

It’s International Women’s Day 2023 (Wednesday 8 March), which is celebrated every year and has been observed since the early 1900’s

This years campaign theme: #EmbraceEquity is a focus on gender equity and aims to spread the understanding in the difference between equity and equality. Below is an image that helps demonstrates the difference, showing that people start from different places, so true inclusion and belonging requires equitable action, to ensure they have access to opportunities.

Alt text – image shows a purple circle in background with an image of three purple figures on the left-hand side all representing different heights but standing on a green equal sign with the word equality underneath. To the right is an image of the same three figures standing at the same height because the green equal equal signs tested on different heights. The word equity is below this image.

Health equity was the theme of occupational therapy week in 2020 – and it really helped me think about the needs of those that access occupational therapy and how systems and institutions often add to inequity rather than break them down.

So how might our occupational therapy practice or intervention be inequitable?

The profession its self has a gender, class, race and able bodied bias, with a majority of those practising occupational therapy in the UK being white educated able bodied women, this even unconsciously will have an affect on how it is practised, developed and viewed.

Although there are many models of occupational therapy, most have been developed by those that dominate the profession, we still have work to do to ensure, that the models we use in practise are critically reviewed to challenge for gender stereotypes, ableist attitudes, drawing attention to bias, and seek out better inclusion. 

Thankfully the change has already began with some collective activism, from groups like AbleOTUK, BAMEOTUK and LGBTQIA+OTUK, but forging equity isn’t limited to those from these groups, it requires everyone to be open to listening; learning and understanding what impact the power they hold has on how the profession id practices, be prepared to take action, even if it feels uncomfortable and become allies.

Task – this international woman’s day take some time out to embrace equity.

  • Reflect on the systems you work within, your occupational therapy practise including models and frames of references you use.
  • Think about who and how they were develop and what might be missing from them, are they bias?
  • Are there some interventions you only do with one gender?
  • Why might this be?
  • How have you and how will you learn more and become an ally to diversity?

Thanks for taking the time to read this – Rachel