- 7th March, 2018
International Women’s Day – What does it mean to you?
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There is a part of me has an issue with any kind of “Day”. If you have to put emphasis on a particular day like Valentine’s Day for example I always think “well what happens for the other 364 days?” Do we just make these things secondary?
I have taken time to look at the history of International Women’s Day and what it means to me. I grew up in a family where my Dad was passionate about me and my sister having every opportunity for our future and using the opportunities we had been given from the past. This meant making sure we voted and making sure we understood the off-side rule!
“This meant making sure we voted and making sure we understood the off-side rule!”
2018 feels particularly significant for International Women’s Day. Not only is it is the centenary of the suffragettes, but #MeToo and #TimesUp have increased awareness of exclusion, inequality, harassment, and abuse in general, not just of women. Many of us in England are not aware that in Ireland abortion is still illegal and that there is an imminent referendum to change this law.
International Women’s Day – over 100 years of celebration.
Did you know that International Women’s Day has actually been observed for more than 100 years? It started with the wonderful suffragettes in the early 1900s and the first official International Women’s Day was “celebrated” in 1911. (Although two years prior to this a National Women’s Day was held in New York to highlight the issues of garment workers) It is now marked around the world and has been celebrated on March 8th since 1913. In 1975 it became so important that it was recognised by the United Nation which each year creates a theme. This year it is;
“We can’t be complacent. Now, more than ever, there’s a strong call-to-action to press forward and progress gender parity. A strong call to #PressforProgress. A strong call to motivate and unite friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive”
Amazing Moves have been made.
The original aim of International Women’s Day has however not been realised although in many countries we have made amazing strides. In most countries through the world equality for women has still not been realised. A gender pay gap persists across the globe, and women are still not present in equal numbers in business or politics. Across the world women’s education and health continue to fall behind men’s, and violence towards women is still worse than it is towards men.
Scarily, the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report for 2017 found gender parity is more than 200 years away globally, a pretty saddening statistic. This means that gap is said in real terms that women work for free 51 days of the year.
Women’s Rights Continue to make news.
In 2017 and continuing in to 2018, women’s rights continue to dominate the headlines. Allegations against leading men in power of sexual misconduct, including Harvey Weinstein, spreading globally through different industries seem to hit the news almost weekly. There will be more to come. Abuse and harassment that had simmered below the surface for decades have been called out in high-profile sectors from film, fashion, music, politics to art.
Time magazine acknowledged the outcry against sexual and gender injustice making it its “Person of the Year” for 2017, and made the Silence Breakers its collective winner. The high-profile validation of change continued with actors wearing black at awards ceremonies, the BBC journalist Carrie Gracie resigning as China editor over unequal pay. Then there was Frances McDormand’s inspiring Oscars speech this week looking for an equality rider in contracts calling for equality for men and women.
The prominent names pushing the agenda are the headline takers, but the injustice goes much deeper than this to people who don’t have the profile to be heard. The headline grabbers are helping them but everyone no matter where they sit must be heard and not scared off. Real change can happen in everyday life and ordinary attitudes moved which is where International Women’s Day #PressforProgress comes into its own. However, it should not be just for one day!
#Pressforprogress encourages all women and men to take part, by choosing one area to concentrate, to press for progress in your area of influence: keep a gender-parity mind, challenge stereotypes and bias, be an ambassador for positive visibility of women, influence others’ beliefs and actions, celebrate women’s achievements. Just choose one and work on that.
Workplace is going to celebrate our amazing members who manage their businesses and their home lives to unbelievable success. Members like Lysha Holmes, Lisa Welch and Gill Morris to name a few. The overriding strength these women have is that in a world where you can be anything they choose to be kind. Kind to the world around them and kind to themselves.
For you, this could be a day of reflection, a day of fun or a day of action. Whatever it means to you, any gender, any race – stand up – be proud.
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