The Equality and Empowerment of Women

 women of the world

March 8th is International Women’s Day.

International Women’s Day is about Equality for Women. Each year it is celebrated around the world on March 8th. Increasingly, as women’s movements gain momentum, the subject of gender equality and women’s exceptional contributions to society are discussed – by men and women alike. Today, a woman’s ability to make a difference and create extraordinary roles is changing history.

“A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.” – Gloria Steinem

The Humble Beginnings of International Women’s Day

The first International Women’s Day was celebrated in 1908. It began as a march of 15,000 women in the streets of New York City demanding their rights – their human rights.  Since that time, women throughout the world have joined hands on March 8th to support, raise, inspire and motivate their peers.

International Women’s Day exists to remind us that individuals and organizations must provide a conscious commitment to provide an inclusive process  –  a process that supports gender parity for all. Particularly in the hunt for talent. #ShatterTheGlassCeiling

“In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.” – Sheryl Sandberg

Equality in the Workplace

successful women Employment Equality is central to the achievement of Gender Equality. Compared to men, women are less likely to work full-time, more likely to be employed in lower-paid occupations, and less likely to progress in their careers. On International Women’s Day we celebrate womanhood and women’s achievements in all their various forms – social, political, cultural, and economic.

“The education and empowerment of women throughout the world cannot fail to result in a more caring, tolerant, just and peaceful life for all.” -Aung San Suu Kyi

Today’s workplace is changing and will continue to change – due to the efforts of employers and individuals. Thanks to globalization, technology and the digital revolution, more and better opportunities are emerging for women. Fortunately, these opportunities are not gender specific types of roles. We, as business people, must all be cognizant of encouraging the hiring of more women. Diversity in the workplace supports, grows and contributes to the economic empowerment of women. It also has a significant impact on our global economies.

Sadly, the World Economic Forum predicts the gender gap won’t be eradicated for at least another 150 years. Thatis unacceptable. In order for our societies to continue to thrive, women and girls must have access to education, healthcare, and technology NOW. The United Nations believes the condoning of gender inequality needs to be addressed today. Their 2017 International Women’s Day theme is –  “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030”.

“We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.” – Malala Yousafzai

Success, Women, Equality and the UN

At this year’s Academy Awards, the nominated film, Hidden Figures, tells the true-life story of three Black Women who played a vital role at NASA during the early years of the US space program. Many were shocked, and pleasantly surprised, to hear their story. Unfortunately, there are many major contributions made by women that are not well known, taught in history classes or documented by historians. IWD helps us realize that more efforts must be made to share, acknowledge and applaud women’s accomplishments. More Hidden Figures Overlooking important contributions is a blemish on our societies.

“Girls should never be afraid to be smart.” – Emma Watson

On Wednesday, March 8th the world will come together to commemorate all women – the known and the unknown. On this day people we will applaud women and support their equal rights and freedoms. We will acknowledge that women have the same right to innovation, education and career opportunities. Call on yourself to help forge a better working world – a more gender inclusive world. #BeBoldForChange.

March 8th is also known as the United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace. UN Secretary-General’s Message for International Women’s Day

“On International Women’s Day, let us all pledge to do everything we can to overcome entrenched prejudice, support engagement and activism, and promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. “ ~United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, former Prime Minister of Portugal

Women’s Rights are Human Rights

march 8The notion that “women’s rights are human rights” was first enunciated, in slightly different words, by the abolitionists and proto-feminists Sarah Moore Grimké and Angelina Grimké Weld in the early 19th century. Since that time, this phrase has been used by various individuals including Canadian politician Ed Broadbent. In 1993 he was the head of the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development. Broadbent said “If we believe as a society that women’s rights are human rights, then it is time to stop discriminating against women in refugee policy.”

In 1995 Hillary Clinton spoke to a gathering of women in Bejing, China. In her speech she declared “it is no longer acceptable to discuss women’s rights as separate from human rights.” That speech was listed as number 35 in American Rhetoric’s Top 100 Speeches of the 20th Century. Another American leader and supporter of women, former US president Barack Obama,  proclaimed the month of March as Women’s History Month in 2011.

“There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.” – Michelle Obama

There is still urgent work to do. The 2017 International Women’s Day campaign calls on people to march towards a better working world – a more gender inclusive world. Although the workplace may still be far from ideal for women, if people continue to fight for equality, there will always be hope.

Women are Part of the Conversation

The Race is On

In closing, I have to include this wonderful quote for International Women’s Day – have a chuckle

“A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.” – Irina Dunn

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