Women Earn Around 23% Less Than Men Globally, Gender Equality is Long Overdue
International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global event that’s been taking place for over a century, celebrating women around the world for their social, economic, cultural and political achievements. It happens every year on March 8 and involves performances, talks, marches, networking events and much more.
It’s not directly associated with any one group, country or organisation. The fight for gender equality requires the collective effort of everyone who cares about human rights. To mark International Women’s Day and this year’s theme #EachforEqual, we’re celebrating the women in our organisation, here’s everything you need to know about IWD and how to get involved.
What’s the History?
International Women’s Day was started in the early 1900’s by Clara Zetkin, leader of the Women’s Office for Germany’s Social Democratic Party, first proposing the idea in 1910 at the International Conference of Working Women.
International Women’s Day was honoured for the first time, 19 March 1911, by four European countries campaigning for women’s right to work and an end to discrimination. In 1913, the date was changed to 8 March and has remained that date since, expanding to more countries each year.
It was adopted by the United Nations (UN) in 1975, which started using an annual theme in 1996; Celebrating the Past, Planning for the Future.
The International Women’s Day digital presence was launched in 2001 and is today used by millions to learn and share information. The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, and Catalyst are International Women’s Day Charities of Choice. The website adopts an annual theme, recent ones include #BalanceforBetter, #PledgeforParity and #TheGenderAgenda.
2011 marked the 100-year centenary of International Women’s Day, President Barack Obama dedicated March 2011 to the accomplishments of women calling it Women’s History Month.
To this day, true equality has not yet been achieved and the campaign continues, supported and celebrated globally. It’s not just about one day, every day is about building an equal world.
Billion women don't have the same job opportunities as men.
This is the current UK gender pay gap.
The number of days women work for free in the UK because of the pay gap.
Of women around the world have experienced violence.
What Values Inform IWD?
International Women’s Day is a powerful platform for change, with values rooted in maintaining its high action and resolute ethos. It holds similar principles to that of the Suffragette movement, justice, dignity and hope, showing tenacity in fighting for the same rights and opportunities as men.
Working collaboratively continues to be vital to IWD and striving for an equal world, equality is at the core of everything the day stands for. It’s a time to show appreciation and respect for yourself and for women around the world.
It requires everyone to display empathy in understanding different perspectives, encouraging the education of women and their history. A level of forgiveness is required to be able to move forward in the pursuit of better.
What is the Theme for 2020?
The IWD campaign theme for 2020 is #EachforEqual. Gender equality is described as a necessity for both economies and communities. The theme follows the idea that as individuals, everything we do, our behaviour, mindset and actions all influence wider society. It encourages a collaborative effort to challenge stereotypes, change perceptions, celebrate and support women to create a healthier, wealthier and happier gender-equal world. The campaign doesn’t just start and end on International Women’s Day, it runs throughout the year continuing to make change happen.
The UN’s theme this year is I am Generation Equality: Realising Women’s Rights encouraging action to achieve gender equality and human rights for women and girls worldwide. The #GenerationEquality campaign is bringing everyone whatever their gender, age, ethnicity together for a gender-equal world, ending gender-based violence, promoting economic justice and feminist leadership.
This year is the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, dedicated to the empowerment and advancement of women. As well as, the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women).
Parliamentary seats held by women.
Of 750 million illiterate adults are women.
Of primary-school-aged girls are not in school.
Years until the global gender pay gap will close.
How Can you Celebrate?
IWD is a national holiday in several countries including, but not limited to Cuba, Ukraine, Georgia and China, for women only. Some celebrate it similarly to Mother’s Day, where women receive gifts and flowers. In Russia, the sale of flowers rises significantly around 8 March and in Italy, the tradition is to present women with a mimosa blossom. In the US, March is celebrated as Women’s History Month and China sees women given a half-day off work, although it’s not always passed on by employers.
Purple is seen internationally as the colour for women. The UK’s Social and Political Union created the combination of purple, green and white as a symbol of women’s equality. White is no longer popularly worn during this time, due to its connoting purity. However, purple and green are still seen as symbols of justice, dignity and hope.
Promote Female Writers and Filmmakers
Celebrating IWD isn’t just about being political, it’s also in the small gestures. Popular media is still very male-dominated, only 21% of filmmakers are female. Next time you’re looking for a new book or film choose something by women, for women. Get your friends or work colleagues involved in the occasion too.
Encourage a Diverse Workplace
A large percentage of women are in low-paid occupations when compared to their male counterparts. To bridge the divide, implement policies to promote diversity in the business, like flexible hours. Share stories of the outstanding women in your organisation both internally and externally. Gender diversity in the workplace benefits reputation, level of performance and creativity.
Show Gratitude to the Women in Your Life
Whoever it is, your wife, mother, daughter, sister or best friend, show them your appreciation for being the fantastic woman they are. If they like flowers, send flowers, go see a film they’ve been wanting to watch, send a card, just show the love.
Educate Girls on Gender Stereotypes
Teach the girls in your life that their role in society is not to reinforce stereotypes, be dependent, vulnerable or incapable. Show them that all their qualities and thoughts matter. Discourage negative language, they are not bossy, they are bold. They can be whoever they want to be, strong, capable and equal.
Reject Societal Standards
Women are often presented in society, further amplified by advertising, with an unrealistic idea of what they are meant to look and behave like. Advertising exists to exploit people’s insecurities to make money, remember this next time you watch television or read a magazine. Support the organisations that are committed to diversity. Be kinder to yourself, everyone is of equal value.
Commit to an Even Household
Women carry out three times as much unpaid domestic work as men. Instead, divide it more evenly. Play to your strengths and show children that men and women should be equal, in all aspects of life.
Find a Cause for You
Gender equality requires a collective effort, find a group that cares about the gender equality topics that interest you. If you can’t find a group, you can even start your own. Encourage the women around you to do the same.
Visit the IWD website to find out what’s happening near you and how to get involved.
Interview with Nicola Roberts, APG Group Operations Director
To celebrate International Women’s Day, we’re putting the spotlight on the outstanding women in our organisation, their careers, their view on gender equality and how they believe the industry can do more. We’re kicking off with Nicola Roberts, our Group Operations Director, who plays a key role in all aspects of the business, across the board.
How did you start in the security industry and what was your first job like?
Makro – In Facilities Management. Really enjoyed all the technical aspects of my first role and the challenge of dealing with different engineers’ personalities.
What advice would you give to any woman wanting to start in this industry?
Get a technical qualification. My Degree in Facilities Management has really made me stand out from the crowd.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Have an opinion and don’t be a yes person. This has never really been a problem for me, I love to challenge the norm.
What does the International Women’s Day 2020 theme #EachforEqual mean to you?
This is the standard the world should be. I don’t see the difference between men and women in business everyone should be equal.
Which woman inspires you the most and why?
I would say, my sister, she has always inspired me and been my role model. She too was a director in her early thirties.
What do you think the greatest challenge will be for the younger generation of women?
Putting image aside and concentrating on substance, with the social media world we live it at the moment. We all need to accept we are not perfect.
What assumptions about women do you want to see change?
That we are not technical because we are women.
What does gender equality mean to you?
Every human should be equal, and we should be judged off ability, not gender or appearance.
Why is diversity crucial in the workplace?
It gives depth to a business and a different perspective.
What recommendations would you give to businesses to create a fairer and unprejudiced industry?
Give everyone equal opportunities and base hiring on ability.
The Asset Protection Group comprises a group of Fire & Security companies with shared ownership and one common goal, protecting your most important assets. As a collective group, we look to offer protection to your assets to assist you with your ongoing success within your own business.