It’s International Women’s Day 2021, and we are celebrating the achievements of local women. Life experiences caused by the pandemic have challenged even the most resilient of us over the last year. This article aims to highlight why we need to celebrate the achievements of local women.
Reports show that it has affected more women in work than ever. In fact, 4 times as many women have left the workforce as men. Equally as upsetting is the news that pre-pandemic 87% of women surveyed said they wanted to start their own business. Six months later 51% had either delayed plans or decided not to go ahead. Not only that, the women who work from home have had to take on a greater proportion of the role in caring for their children.
This might not surprise you and you may be one of those women. However, let get of any anger or sadness and start to believe that you can do this. You can achieve and if you set a plan you can get over the challenges.
International Women’s Day 2021
This year the theme for International Women’s Day is ‘#Choose to Challenge’. We think this is perfect and represents our efforts to show how amazing local women are succeeding in business, as volunteers and in life.
Let’s see this as our opportunity to work together and support each other to help us all to realise our dreams. This is not about the exclusion of men, this is about stamping out inequality and gender bias. In particular, we need to address the way subtle inequalities work – the unconscious bias.
Let’s stand tall and #choosetochallenge! We can make change.
Does it Still Matter?
International Women’s Day is as important today as it was when it first started. A lot has changed in the last 110 years but there is more room for more change.
Think back to 1909 – the was the first celebration of Women and it took place in the United States. It was an era when women had started to fight back against inequality and oppression. They were demanding better pay, shorter hours and the right to vote. In 1910, Clara Zetkin, Leader of the Women’s Office for the Social Democratic Party in Germany, proposed a celebration of women, every year on the same day in every country around the world. The 100 plus women from 17 countries gave unanimous agreement to the proposal.
The following year, on 19 March, men and women in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland celebrated International Women’s Day. They campaigned for equal rights to work, vote, receive training and hold public office. Finally, women around the world agreed to celebrate the day on 8 March and it has remained the same ever since. These core values remain the same, so yes the day does still matter.
United Nations and International Women’s Day
The United Nations celebrated International Women’s Day for the first time in 1975 and they adopted the day in 1977. From 1996, every year took on a theme, including things like Women and Human Rights, World Free of Violence Against Women. By 2000, feminism was becoming less popular despite the inequalities that still existed.
The cause took a slightly different approach – they began to celebrate the achievements of women. At the same time, they continued to address the issues of gender difference. Achievements and celebrations came under the banners for Each for Equal, Balance for Better and Be Bold for Change.
Every year, the campaign raises money and donates it to a chosen charity. Since 2007, these include the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts and Catalyst Inc.
The Centenary and Beyond
The Centenary of the movement took place in 2011. President Barack Obama called March 2011 “Women’s History Month”. This reflected the achievements made by women that shaped history.
More recently there has been a massive shift in attitude towards women’s equality and emancipation. Despite this major inequalities around the world remain. Opportunities within business and politics, pay, education and health are not equal for all women. Violence against women is worse than that of men.
Major improvements have taken place. There are ever-increasing stories of women who inspire other women to choose to challenge. Stories of women who push themselves to achieve their dreams. Equally, there are men who support the cause and fight alongside their wives, daughters and sisters. They too are celebrating the achievements of local women.
Inequalities and Young Women
In 2020, Plan International UK undertook a study of girls’ lives in the UK. 60% of the girls aged between 14-21 believed males received better treatment than they did. They noticed differences at school, within the media and even at home. Bias is often unconscious. The technology teacher who says, ‘When you go to the hardware store with your dad or uncle’. The breaktime playground monitor who questions the girl who wants to play football with a largely male group. We know they don’t mean to offend, but they are putting doubt into the mind of a young woman.
Girls can succeed, but they must fight to be heard, represented and be safe. We must stop the cultural pressure to look a particular way, the embarrassment about female health and silence about periods. As women, we must unite to overcome this.
Choose to Challenge
For now, let’s #choosetochallenge. Celebrating the achievements of local women and women around the world for their achievements in work, in sport, while creating, at home and everywhere is so important. Share your stories with us.