On March 8th every year, the world comes together to celebrate the remarkable women who inhabit it. This global observance is known as International Women’s Day and has been commemorated for over a century, with gender equality as its fundamental principle.The theme for International Women’s Day 2022 is #BreakTheBias, calling upon us to envision “a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination.” It envisions a gender-balanced world where men and women have equal opportunities and are treated with fairness. This day represents unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy, and action.
Companies have the opportunity to join the conversation on gender parity and empower their male and female employees to champion equality at all times. Recognizing and observing International Women’s Day within the workplace can be advantageous.
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“Gender equality is a human fight, not a female fight.” – Frieda Pinto
You can download and display our International Women’s Day poster, here.
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What is the History Behind International Women’s Day?
The early 20th century witnessed a surge of unrest and political discourse among women as they became increasingly vocal about their oppression and started advocating for change.
In 1908, 15,000 women marched through the streets of New York City, demanding better pay and voting rights. The following year, the United States celebrated its first National Women’s Day. In 1910, during the International Socialist Women’s Conference in Copenhagen, the decision was made to establish an annual International Women’s Day. Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland honored this day in 1911. The United Nations officially recognized and started observing International Women’s Day on March 8th in 1975. Today, it is recognized across the globe and is an official holiday in 27 countries.
Numerous organizations have chosen to acknowledge International Women’s Day. For instance, Google often modifies its logo to reflect the significance of the day, while toy manufacturer Mattel unveiled 17 new “role model” Barbies in 2018, representing real-life inspirational women such as athletes.
This public recognition plays a crucial role in drawing attention to global issues and inspiring action as part of a broader movement. Even small businesses have the power to drive change by acknowledging International Women’s Day in their workplaces.
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“In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.” – Sheryl Sandberg
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Why Do We Still Celebrate International Women’s Day?
Over the past century, significant progress has been made towards gender equality. In 1919, women faced severe limitations—they couldn’t apply for loans in their own names, work in legal professions or civil services, receive equal pay for equal work, or prosecute a spouse for rape. Today, these restrictions are unimaginable in countries like the UK, thanks to the implementation of laws preventing discrimination.
Despite the progress, there is still a long way to go before complete gender equality and parity are achieved. In the UK, men, on average, still earn 9% more than women. Only 23% of the world’s politicians are women, and women make up just 16% of FTSE 350 executives. Furthermore, women constitute 64% of the global illiterate population.
It is projected to take another 100 years to bridge the gender gap fully. That is why we continue to celebrate International Women’s Day and persist in the fight for gender equality and balance.
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there an International Men’s Day?
International Men’s Day was established in 1992 and is celebrated on November 19th every year. The purpose of this day is to highlight men who make positive contributions to society and raise awareness of issues that men face globally. As suicide remains the leading cause of death among men under 45, days like International Men’s Day are crucial in encouraging men to speak out and break the stigma surrounding mental health.
If you choose to observe International Women’s Day in your organization, it is important to also recognize International Men’s Day to promote gender equality and balance. Stay tuned for our advice on marking this occasion closer to the date.
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“There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.” – Michelle Obama
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How Can I Commemorate International Women’s Day in My Workplace?
Celebrating International Women’s Day in your workplace is an excellent way to foster discussions about gender parity.
Moreover, acknowledging IWD encourages women to engage in fields and industries where men are traditionally dominant. For example, if you run a software development company and the majority of your workforce is male, showing your recognition of IWD may inspire more female applicants. This is particularly important considering that only 15% of employees in STEM roles in the UK are female.
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Types of Activities for International Women’s Day
Your activities don’t have to be grandiose; even small gestures can raise awareness. Here are some ideas:-
– Decorate your workspace: Use bunting, balloons, banners, and posters featuring stories of inspirational women.
– Foster inclusivity: Involve both male and female employees in planning the day and its activities.
– Promote reflection: Encourage your employees to think about a woman who has inspired them and write it down for others to see.
– Symbolic gestures: Place a small item, like stationery, on each desk to show that every employee is involved in the day.
– Share stories: Encourage female leaders within your organization to speak about their experiences and invite others to listen.
– Invite guest speakers: Consider inviting a woman working in a male-dominated industry, such as tech, to share her employment journey.
– Conduct workshops: Offer exercise classes or creative sessions like crafts to provide a break from routine work and encourage mindfulness.
– Fundraising for a cause: Organize fundraising activities or donation drives for women’s charities to support their mission.
Remember to ensure that your activities are inclusive of both men and women, and demonstrate similar levels of commitment when celebrating International Men’s Day.
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Creating Long-Term Change
International Women’s Day is just one way to address the gender issues that continue to impact millions worldwide. To make lasting changes in your workplace, consider:
– Reviewing and updating policies: Ensure your hiring practices include a clear equal opportunities statement.
– Combating pregnancy discrimination: Avoid policies that discriminate against pregnant employees and be vigilant against unfavorable treatment.
– Providing sensitive training: Offer training on topics like sexual harassment during staff inductions to establish workplace boundaries.
– Encouraging women in leadership roles: Establish mentoring programs and extend opportunities to female students, supporting their career advancement.
International Women’s Day serves as a reminder of the ongoing journey towards gender equality. By taking proactive steps and promoting inclusivity, you contribute to creating a more balanced and equitable world.