Confession time: I don't like International Women's Day.
It mostly involves inspirational speakers (usually women) speaking to large groups of people (usually women) about how we have or haven't made progress towards gender equality (things the women in the audience know already).
While women inspiring and supporting other women (especially over cake and bubbles) is a good thing, last week's celebration felt like groundhog day.
• International Women's Day: What women really want (and need) from the men in their lives
• International Women's Day: MP Carmel Sepuloni's health scare warning to women
• International Womens' Day: Gender equality still 'frustratingly slow'
• International Women's Day celebrated in Hawke's Bay
Same passionate cries for change; same smiling social media posts saying how important women are; and same lack of actual action towards gender equality.
All talk and no trousers.
Where was the flurry of reports being released about what actually works to reduce the gender pay gap, increase gender diversity in the boardrooms and stop violence against women and girls?
Where were the numerous leaders clambering to launch their action plans to achieve real change? And committing substantial resources to do so?
Maybe I missed them. But in my gloom I did find one glimmer of hope.
Last Monday – quietly - best practice guidelines for doctors treating patients suffering from endometriosis were launched in Parliament.
According to the Ministry of Health, one in 10 New Zealand women suffer from endometriosis.
Delayed diagnosis is common, with the average length of time to get a diagnosis being eight to nine years. Such delays can dramatically affect people's wellbeing, with often-debilitating pelvic pain, bowel problems and fertility problems resulting.
That is an immense and prolonged amount of suffering for a large group of us. It is hoped that these guidelines will improve care for sufferers.
So why am I so excited by a bureaucratic document that holds no weight? They are only guidelines after all.
Because for centuries women's pain has been dismissed. For much of human history women have been viewed as irrational beings whose uncontrollable emotions justified keeping our delicate souls at home.
The womb was blamed for many illnesses and was even thought to wander around our bodies causing all sorts of trouble. Plato describes the womb as voracious and predatory, forever reducing women into frail unstable creatures.
While modern medicine is now clear that our wombs generally stay put, the legacy of hysteria and women as overly emotional has arguably remained.
Women wait longer to be prescribed pain medication and are prescribed less. We are more likely to have our physical symptoms dismissed as mental health issues. This starts early; girls will have less access to pain relief than their brothers.
How many times did we have our pain associated with menstruation dismissed? Or we dismissed the pain of another women or girl as just put on or an excuse to get out of PE? Or perhaps we gave up talking about it and suffered in silence?
Yet, quietly, last Monday, this was all acknowledged.
As the Associate Minister for Health, Julie Anne Genter, said as she launched the guidelines, women's pain has routinely been dismissed by health practitioners based on misconceptions and inaccurate assumptions; assumptions that have centuries of history behind them.
So even though it was linked to Endometriosis Month, not International Women's Day, this small step represents a large leap forward. It's not just guidelines, it is official and public acknowledgement that women have been treated unfairly by the health system, that our bodies have been misunderstood, that our pain has been dismissed, and that our lesser place in society has been wrongly justified by assumptions about our biological and mental weakness.
Now that is something to celebrate.
So now we have officially put to bed the notion that our wandering wombs make us less competent, let's focus on achieving gender equality in the home and workplace so we have tangible progress to report on International Women's Day 2021.
• Jo Cribb is a consultant who works with leaders and their organisations to achieve their diversity and inclusion goals. She was the previous chief executive of the Ministry for Women