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6 Ways to Celebrate International Women's Day

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International Women’s Day is held on March 8th every year. It’s a day when we celebrate the amazing social, cultural, economic and political achievements of women - while also campaigning for greater progress towards gender equality.

Why do we need International Women’s Day in 2020

International Women’s Day (IWD) has been celebrated since the early 1900s. Although we’ve made great progress since then, the problem of gender inequality still persists around the world.

The UN estimates that globally women only make 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, for work of equal value. Despite comprising over half the population, women occupy less than 23% of parliamentary seats globally. And in many countries women still suffer disproportionately from poverty, lack of education, and lack of access to health-care.

Women are also severely underrepresented at senior management and leadership levels. Only 6.6% of Fortune 500 companies had a female CEO in 2019; a number that’s declining instead of improving.

Why should businesses care about International Women’s Day?

Recent years have seen a huge increase in the number of businesses around the world celebrating IWD. There is growing recognition that women’s rights affect us all, and that we need to strive for more female representation at all levels of business.

Gender diversity in the workplace produces real benefits. Several studies have shown that a gender-diverse workplace is good for financial returns, employee engagement, innovation and reducing turnover. Gender diversity can also help your business resonate with a wider customer base.

So what can you do to celebrate International Women’s Day, both in your workplace and on a personal level? Here are 10 great ideas to get you started.

1. Promote #EachforEqual

This year’s official theme of IWD, #EachforEqual encouraging us all to actively challenge stereotypes

Individually, we're all responsible for our own thoughts and actions - all day, every day.

We can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women's achievements.

Collectively, each one of us can help create a gender equal world.

Let's all be #EachforEqual.

2. Promote gender diversity in the workplace

In 2017 the UN theme for IWD is ‘Women in the Changing World of Work’. At present only 50% of women are represented in the labour force globally, compared to 76% of men. And an overwhelming majority of women are concentrated in low-paid, lower-skill or domestic occupations.

To create sustainable and healthy economies we must empower women and break down these barriers. No matter what industry you’re in, you can implement policies to fight gender discrimination and encourage diversity in your business.

Studies have shown that gender diversity has significant benefits for business, including:

  • Higher performance. A groundbreaking 2012 study of 2,360 companies globally found that those with at least one woman on the board outperformed those without any female board members by 26% over six years. A 2015 study by McKinsey also found revealed strong links between gender diversity and financial performance.
  • Improved reputation. By building your company’s reputation as an equal opportunities employers, you will naturally attract a greater pool of talent, while also appealing to a larger customer and investor base. 
  • Creativity & innovation.A study by Scientific American found that greater diversity in the workplace fosters creativity, diligence and hardwork. It makes sense that being around people who are different to us helps spark innovative thinking.

3. Hold an IWD celebration

Long-term strategies to foster gender diversity are crucial, but you can also celebrate IWD with events on the day. This will help show your organisations commitment to inclusion and gender equality. Here are some ideas:

  • Hold an IWD themed morning tea or shared lunch, with women speakers
  • Profile some of your organisation’s amazing women on your website
  • Send an email to staff to raise awareness of the day (or share this blog post)
  • Have a film screening on women’s issues
  • Hold a seminar with keynote speeches by women in your industry
  • Share your business & industry’s current statistics on gender diversity.

 4. Read these compelling books by women

Celebrating IWD doesn’t have to involve big political or public gestures… you can do it in your own small personal way just by reading a great book by a female author.  

Try one of these  bestsellers:

  • Foreign Soilby Maxine Beneba Clarke. Winner of the Debut Fiction Indie Award and the Literary Fiction Book of the Year in Australia.
  • The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah. An albino woman languishes on death row in Zimbabwe’s Chikurubi prison.
  • Difficult Womenby Roxane Gay. A short story collection about the challenges facing women in modern America.
  • Pachinkoby Min Jin Lee. A novel set in 1930s Korea and Japan, detailing the struggles of a family in poverty.
  • This Too Shall Passby Milena Busquets. Set in the coastal Spanish town Cadaques, a woman comes to terms with her mother’s death.
  • Everfair by Nisi Shawl. An alternate history / science fiction / steampunk novel set in the Belgian Congo. An especially enjoyable read in a genre traditionally dominated by men.

You should also check out this excellent list: 6 books by inspiring women to add to your booklist.

5. Donate to your local women’s refuge

Escaping an abusive domestic situation can be extremely difficult, and women’s refuges are an essential lifeline for women and children who need to leave. Without these services more lives would be lost. But women's refuges are also in dire need of financial support.

Why not celebrate International Women’s Day by making a donation to your local refuge? Here are just a few of the amazing services in the UK

UK:

Refuge UK: List of Refuges & Services

Women’s Aid Local Directory

6. Do something kind for a woman you love

Whether it’s your mother, grandmother, sister, daughter, girlfriend, or a female friend… Why not celebrate IWD by making them feel special?

Send flowers, write a card, give a small gift, or take them out to a movie. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or woman; we can all show our gratitude and love for the women around us.

If you want to help a worthy cause at the same time, these unique gift cards from Oxfam help to provide safe refuge for women fleeing from violence.

 

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