International Women’s Day 2024 serves as a poignant reminder of the collective responsibility to advance gender equality worldwide.

In the journey toward gender equality, the metaphor of walking in different shoes offers a profound insight into understanding diverse perspectives, challenges, and opportunities. This approach emphasises empathy, respect, and inclusivity, as essential components in advocating for and achieving gender equality. By considering what it means to walk in different shoes, we can explore the nuances of gender experiences, challenge stereotypes, and foster a more equitable society.


The concept of “walking in different shoes” is a metaphorical expression often used to illustrate the importance of seeing things from another person’s perspective to better understand their experiences, challenges and the impact of social norms.


Empathy lies at the heart of walking in different shoes.


Walking in different shoes means also actively questioning and challenging stereotypes, recognising that individuals’ capabilities and interests are not determined by their gender but are as diverse and varied as humanity itself. Gender stereotypes are pervasive and deeply ingrained in many societies. These stereotypes often dictate what is considered appropriate behaviour, roles, and aspirations for women, based on their gender. The aim is creating spaces where everyone can thrive without the constraints of traditional gender roles.



Walking in different shoes also has a practical application in advocating for policy change and better conditions for women. It means ensuring that policies and conditions are designed and implemented with a deep understanding of their impact. In the case of Women, it means promoting women’s rights, protecting against gender-based violence, ensuring equal opportunities in the workplace, and supporting parental leave policies that benefit all genders. Policies informed by a nuanced understanding of gender experiences are more likely to be effective and equitable.


By walking alongside others in the journey towards gender equality, men can play a crucial role in shaping a more inclusive and equitable world. However, women are left alone in most of this journey. Walking in different shoes for gender equality challenges us to look beyond our own experiences, question societal norms, and advocate for inclusive policies. By embracing this approach, we contribute to building a society where everyone has the opportunity to live freely, pursue their aspirations, and enjoy equal rights and respect.


As we, Soroptimists, celebrate the achievements of women, past and present, we recommit together, breaking barriers and building bridges for sustainable development of future generations.


Rita Nogueira Ramos

SIE Vice President Advocacy