International Women’s Day (IWD) takes place on Tuesday 8 March. The day is dedicated to celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the world. It also acts as a call to action to accelerate women’s equality.
IWD has been around for longer than you might think. The first gathering - National Women’s Day - took place in America in 1909. Countries across Europe, including Denmark, Austria, Switzerland and Germany got on board in 1911 and the UN began celebrating it in 1975.
IWD was originally celebrated on the last Sunday of February, but now takes place on 8 March every year. Last year’s theme was #ChooseToChallenge, and this year the call to action is #BreakTheBias. IWD’s official website summaries the it as follows:
“Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that's diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women's equality. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.”
Here are a few things you can do to participate:
One simple yet effective way to mark IWD is by taking part in the #BreakTheBias social media campaign. To get started, check out IWD’s social media template page. It includes lots of examples of how people have responded to themes in the past. You can add your own quotes, photos and branding to the template before sharing it on your socials.
Why not get your team together to pose for a group photo? You can also submit your pics to IWD to be featured on their channels. Instead of using an existing quote, chat with your team about why they think it’s important to #BreakTheBias, and come up with something together.
Source: IWD website
There are hundreds of physical and virtual events happening to mark IWD this year, and most of them can be found here. Event types range from educational ones, including a seminar about updates in the management of gynaecological cancers, to social-focused events.
You might also want to consider hosting your own event, appointing women from your team and community as guest speakers. IWD can provide you with the perfect opportunity to tap into the wealth of skills contained within your coworking space membership.
Although women have made many gains in the workplace over years, we’re still a long way from equality. IWD’s collaborative Lean In Toolkit provides businesses with the tools they need to empower coworkers to voice their opinions and instigate change.
IWD’s 50 Ways to Fight Bias workshop runs through the most common types of biases that women face at work - including the compounding discrimination women face based on their race, sexual orientation, disability, or other aspects of their identity.
“Taking a skill-based approach across your organisation will also reduce bias in your upskilling, promoting, hiring, and other talent decisions…Fostering a culture like this is one that provides opportunities for growth, empowerment and career elasticity.”
This Tuesday, or any other day for that matter, why not take some time to reflect on your company’s policies and take steps to ensure that women receive equitable support in the workplace. To begin, take a look at policies related to following:
Diversity and inclusion training for recruitment
Women in leadership programmes
Mentorship or coaching and coaching opportunities
As a business, you can use your buying power to support women-owned businesses. Actively seek out a female-led, sustainable local business to purchase your wares from.
This is something you can do all year-round, not just on IWD.
Share the stories and achievements of the women who occupy your space, whether they’re a member, colleague or supplier. You could interview someone for your podcast or blog, focusing on how they’ve overcome any barriers to success. Spread the message even further by sharing it on your social media platforms, Slack channels and in your newsletter.
Who knows - a local, national or international publication might pick it up!
IWD provides an opportunity for individuals and businesses to raise significant amounts of money for charities that focus on making the world a safer and more equitable place for women. Consider running a fundraiser or collecting donations for a charity of your choice.
Women for Women is just one example of the many organisations out there today doing great things in the fight for gender equality and women’s rights. The charity works “at the critical intersection of women and conflict providing skills, knowledge, and resources that create sustainable change for women, their families, and their communities.”
In an article for Forbes, Alyssa Wright provides advice on the ways in which you can offer meaningful support to women during the crisis in Ukraine, including by “donating to funds supporting women, girls, and gender non-conforming people in Ukraine.”
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