International Women’s Day (IWD), held on March 8 each year, is a day celebrated around the globe to recognise the achievements of women and to continue to press for gender parity.
Campaigning for women's rights
The rights of women have changed dramatically since 1911 when the first International Women’s Day was marked in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. March 19 that year saw more than one million people attended rallies to campaign on women’s rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination.In 1975 the United Nations celebrated the first International Women’s Day and by 1977 adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace. However, by the millennium, focus on the day across the globe was declining despite the fact that gender equality was – and still is – far from achieved.As a result, in 2001 www.internationalwomensday.com was launched to re-energise the day and to celebrate the success and achievements of women. The website acts as a global hub for people all around the world to share their IWD celebrations and to keep the campaign for gender parity at the fore.
Be Bold for Change
This year, the theme for the day is: “Be bold for change," Relocate Global asks how women can take hold of this message and be bold in the workplace.“Be prepared to talk about what you are good at and what you have achieved. This isn’t about boasting; it’s about letting your organisation know you are engaged, committed, and enthusiastic,” said Jayne Harrison, executive associate coach at Working Transitions, a specialist business transition company.“I hear countless stories of X got the promotion because they spent longer raising their profile and networking with other leaders. If this overt method doesn’t feel comfortable, find a way that does. Don’t just assume that everyone knows you’re doing a good job.”
Don't be a 'mini-man'
Fiona Davidge, Enterprise Risk Manager at the Wellcome Trust counselled, “Do not be a ‘mini-man’ – women on the whole have strengths; work and influence in a different way and I never felt the need to change who and what I am. I have never felt the need to influence over a drink or in the pub. Fortunately the old boy network way of working and getting jobs is reducing."Although much has changed since 1911, there is still a long way to go to reach gender parity. Women still often earn less for doing the same work as men, struggle to access top corporate posts and are less represented in politics.“It’s still a very male dominated environment out there – regardless of your position,” said Ms Harrison.
Hazel Moffat, head of DLA Piper's litigation and regulatory practice in Scotland, explained, “International Women’s Day is a celebration of how far we have come for gender parity but also highlights the work that is still left to do. It has been predicted by the World Economic Forum that the gender gap won’t close entirely until 2186 – this is far too long to wait, we need to act now.”But it’s not all doom and gloom, “It’s my belief that there has never been a better time for women in leadership roles. Of course, we’re a way off the ideal as yet. In the meantime, women can support themselves by holding onto their authentic selves,” said Ms Harrison.