International Women’s Day (IWD) is held annually on March 8th. The theme for IWD 2021 is #choosetochallenge calling on everyone to speak up about gender bias and inequality. From challenge comes change, this day sparks everyone to choose to challenge.
International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender equality.
The international day used to be IWWD. The second ‘W’ was a working W – International Women’s Working Day. This demonstrates the evolution and impact of women in business and society that we removed the second W and acknowledged women in all aspects of society, not just their efforts in the workforce.
The IWD theme this year #choosetochallenge highlights the women who have risen up and challenged assumptions about what they could achieve in their professional and personal lives.
The COVID-19 pandemic spotlighted the gender struggles for women in business.
Women make up 39% of global employment but account for 54% of overall job losses.
Canadian Small Business Minister Mary Ng commented on the pandemic effects, “If we’re going to rebuild our economies, we need to take an inclusive feminist approach.”
IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva agreed stating, “I challenge governments to make sure women are not left out when resources are allocated.”
These open conversations challenge diversity issues that are the force of change.
Female Australian Business leader, Cathy O’Connor, previous CEO of Nova Entertainment and newly appointed CEO and Managing Director of Ooh! Media credits the growth of women in business to standing up against gender bias comments or actions.
“I am often asked how I’ve managed my career progression against the challenges of the traditionally male-dominated media industry. The answer is it’s been about having strong role models and supportive bosses.
I was given my big breaks by male CEOs and Chairs – they were gender blind and assessed me based on what I contributed.
As a leader, it is my responsibility to call out bias when I see it. Those conversations are often uncomfortable, but they need to happen for things to change. I have always felt powerful in a room where I’m the only woman.”
Through the power of social media and digital channels, women are using their voice and spreading awareness on gender biased organisations. It is a powerful force that brings new levels of accountability.
O’Conner went on to comment, “change comes when leaders are aware of how their companies show up for their female staff and are prepared to listen and accept their own report cards and act accordingly.”
Organisations internationally need to #choosetochallenge the gender balance and strive to be 50/50 gendered in the hierarchy of roles, especially in executive or leadership roles. This is the goal of International Women’s Day but should be applied all the other days of the year.
Important World Days to add to your business calendar:
24th January – International Day of Education
26th January – International Holocaust remembrance Day
8th March – International Women’s Day
5th June- World Environment Day
20th June – World Refugee Day
8th August – International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples
11th August – International Youth Day
20th September – International Day of Peace
October 5th – World Teachers Day
9th December – Human Rights day