Each year on 8th March, people across the world unite to celebrate the achievements of women and campaign for gender parity. Although the exact origins of the event are unclear, it can be traced back to 1908, when 15,000 women took to the streets of New York city to demand voting rights, better pay and shorter working hours. The following year on 28th February the first National Women’s Day was celebrated in America. But it was Clara Zetkin, leader of the Social Democratic Party women’s office in Germany, who first suggested an International Women’s Day in 1910. The event has been celebrated on 8th March since 1913, and was formally recognised by the United Nations in 1975.
This year’s theme is #BalanceforBetter, designed to highlight workplace and business inequality. While women make up just over half the workforce in America, only 25 of the 2018 Fortune 500 companies had female CEOs. Female directors on US boards made up only 22 percent last year, according to a J.P. Morgan report on achieving gender equality. Persistently low representation of women in boardrooms has led the report to conclude that “companies need to do more to instil gender diversity especially because women are still vastly underrepresented across all levels in the workplace.”
How to get involved
Make a Pledge : Visit the IWD website and make a pledge to lend your support to help end gender inequality. You can help women and girls achieve their ambitions, challenge conscious and unconscious bias, or creating inclusive cultures, there are many ways to make a positive contribution to the movement. Share your pledge across social media platforms using the #PledgeForParity.
Join the Conversation : Don’t be afraid to ask uncomfortable questions and challenge your workplace status quo. Since April 2017, UK companies with over 250 employees are required by law to publish data on gender pay and bonus gaps. Change will only be achieved if discussions around pay and work place inequalities are de-stigmatised.
Show the Love : IWD is all about empowering and celebrating women. So why not take the opportunity to acknowledge your female colleagues’ achievements or send your best gal pals, mum or sister a message to let them know how special they are. ?
Attend an Event : There are a vast number of free and ticketed events happening across the country to mark IWD. From festivals and concerts to lectures, exhibitions and sponsored sporting events, there is sure to be something to suit all tastes and interests. IWD also encourages individuals and organisations of any size to host their own events, offering free Event Packs and resources through their website.
However you decide to mark this important date, &SISTERS wishes you a very happy International Women’s Day!