March 8th is International Women’s Day, a “global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.” (according to InternationalWomensDay.com). Woman’s Day was organized by the Socialist Party of America, and was first observed in New York in 1909. Though it was claimed to have been organized as a remembrance of the 1908 strike of the International Ladies’ Garment Worker’s Union, there doesn’t seem to be much evidence of that strike actually happening. Inspired by the Americans, over one million people celebrated Woman’s Day throughout Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland in 1911. The popularity of the Day continued to spread, and in 1977 the United Nations General Assembly invited member states to proclaim March 8th as the UN Day for Women’s Rights and World Peace.
This year’s campaign theme is built around the easy to share #PledgeForParity. According to a 2014 prediction made by the World Economic Forum, global gender parity will not be achieved until 2095. 2095, y’all! But that is not the worst of it. The very next year the very same group re-evaluated the numbers and, given that progress towards gender equality had SLOWED, they extended estimate to 2133. So, they are saying that women will not have equal rights, education, and representation for another ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTEEN years! I won’t see it, I get that. But I am not ok with the idea that my daughters won’t even see it. In response to this abysmal estimation, people are being asked to take a pledge to take concrete steps to close the gender gap before the estimated date. Some suggestions are to pledge to:
- help women and girls achieve their ambitions
- challenge conscious and unconscious bias
- call for gender-balanced leadership
- value men and women’s contributions equally
- create inclusive, flexible cultures
Tons of people have already make pledges, including the Global President of Mars Foods Fiona Dawson and Founder of Virgin Sir Richard Branson.
“It’s sad to see that in this day and age, gender parity is still far from a reality in many parts of the world.
I’ve always felt strongly that the best places to work are those that foster an inclusive culture – one where differences are celebrated and our people can be themselves and feel at home.
Here at Virgin, we recognise that a culture that brings together the right group of people who mirror the wonderful diversity of our world and who can promote diversity of thought is good for business. It’s a huge opportunity, not a challenge, and it’s great for the communities that we serve. We have the desire to make a positive difference to people’s lives through changing business for good, so we create an environment where all people can thrive – because of who they are, not in spite of it.
That’s why, on International Women’s Day, I support the Pledge for Parity. It’s an important reminder that all of us in business can and must do so much more to promote equality, respect and fairness.”
How will you help bring an end to gender disparity? Pledge here.