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As we look forward to International Women’s Day on March 8, we are calling on men to take the next step in their allyship, and #ChoosetoChallenge inequality, bias, and sexism at work and at home.

This International Women’s Day and every day, here are 4 stereotypes and misconceptions that we’re asking men to actively question, reflect on, and challenge – personally and as they show up in communities, places of work, and/or governments. Men, take the next step in your proactive allyship for gender equality: #ChoosetoChallenge these myths when you see them.

1. Myth: Identifying as an ally is plenty. 

We know that many men want to be allies for gender equality – in one US study, 77% of men said they were doing “everything they can” to be allies at work. Being a true ally requires taking ongoing, informed action. Wherever you fall on the spectrum of allyship, it’s important to challenge yourself to take it to the next level. First and foremost, it’s crucial to listen to the women in your life to understand how each person wants to be supported. There are also concrete actions you can take right now, like: 1) Let other men know when what they are saying is inappropriate (sexist, racist, homophobic, etc.); 2) Point out when credit for an idea or project is due to your female coworker; 3) Openly defend women who are targets of sexual harassment by male associates, and 4) Advocate for pay transparency and equal pay for all employees. Check out our Roadmap to Allyship for more actions you can take today. 

#ChoosetoChallenge yourself to take concrete actions of allyship: for example, if you notice someone speaking over a woman, emphasize her contribution and/or leverage your privilege to create space for her to be heard.

2. Myth: The needle has shifted and most men are in support of women political leaders.

While our research finds that many men do support the notion of having more women politicians, it’s not to the same extent that women do. Our research in North Africa and the Middle East finds that1 up to 75% of men across four countries and contexts agree that more women should be in positions of political leadership, as compared to up to 91% of women. In Uganda, 81% of men agreed that men make better political leaders than women do (55% of women agreed). In the US, while a majority of men (70%) believe there should be more women in positions of political power – this number jumps for women, particularly women of color (90%) (vs. 82% of White women) who are leading the way in championing this change. 

#ChoosetoChallenge the status quo: actively and fully embrace women’s political leadership in all of its diverse representations – including Black and indigenous women, Latinx women, and women of color. Donate to support a candidate today or choose a woman political leader to amplify on social media.

3. Myth: Women feel comfortable telling the men in their lives about their experiences with sexism or discrimination

According to our study on allyship, more than half (58%) of women agreed that men they work with would be good listeners if they shared an experience of harassment. However, it’s important to be mindful, that you may overestimate how likely a woman is to feel comfortable sharing with you: when men were asked if they would be a good listener to a woman reaching out about experiences of workplace harassment, 89% of men said they would be. Think about how women’s life experiences of sexism and/or racism, your own feelings of defensiveness, or other factors could create obstacles to building trust. 

#ChoosetoChallenge yourself to speak up if you notice overt or subtle sexism at work – whether it manifests in uneven compensation, role stereotyping (e.g. women are always volunteered as note-takers), comments on physical appearance – or otherwise. 

4. Myth: When it comes to parenting and caregiving, we’ve all been hit equally hard by the pandemic. 

This past year, around the world, nearly all of our health, livelihoods, and safety and security have been challenged and negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with particular stress on navigating work and home life. However, its impacts have been disproportionate, with women still bearing the greater responsibility at home: Across the Philippines, Kenya, the UK, US, and Canada, Oxfam finds that in particular, single parents and families living in poverty have the least support but the heaviest levels of unpaid care and domestic work; essential workers and families in intergenerational homes have also been taking on larger loads. In the US, women not only hold a disproportionate amount of unpaid care and domestic responsibilities, they are also disproportionately bearing job loss and income loss for their household, especially Latina and Black women. 

#ChoosetoChallenge yourself to support women – particularly those who are front-line workers, single parents, and those at the intersections. Consider donating to a domestic workers group that advocates for paid care workers and/or provides direct support, or contributing to efforts that provide meals and other support to families during school closures or disruptions.

Do you have other myths we must #ChoosetoChallenge this International Women’s Day and always? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook.

129% of men and 68% of women in Egypt; 67% of men and 91% of women in Morocco; 75% of men and 88% of women in Lebanon; and 42% of men 59% of women in Palestine agree that more women should be in positions of political leadership.

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