The theme for International Women’s Day 2019 is “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change”. It is the perfect concept that incorporates many of the discussions that have taken place over the last 2-3 years. #MeToo movement.
#BalanceForBetter represents acknowledgment, recognition and the growing power of women in the workplace as well as in the area of social equality. Described as a “business issue”, the aim of this theme is to encourage gender balance in boardrooms, in the media and in wealth as a way for economies to thrive. It is no surprise that gender equality and women’s rights are fundamental to global progress. Progress driven by peace and security, human rights and sustainable development.
Better the Balance, Better the World
Want to participate?
Beginning on Friday, March 1, an Inaugural International Women’s Day Photo Competition was launched on the EyeEm platform. This offers an opportunity to celebrate women in the entire month of March. It is a worldwide competition open to photographers of any gender. An app is available for free download on iOS or Android. To enter, click here. Closing date is March 31, 2019.
International Women’s Day Background
In 1975, the United Nations added International Women’s Day (IWD) to their annual agenda during that year’s International Women’s Year. Since then it has become a tradition. The sitting UN Secretary-General makes an annual address which is well received. The UN also refers to IWD as the United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace. Today, many countries, including Canada, celebrate International women’s day on 8th March.
IWD has increasingly become a time to reflect and take stock on what progress has been made towards gender equality. It is a call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women. It recognizes those who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their own countries and communities.
With a focus on the observation and strengthening of the political and social awareness of women, many global corporations have started to more actively support IWD. This includes the empowerment of women; the steady build of a culture that allows women to make choices for both their own benefit and the benefit of society as a whole.
Gender imbalance is not just a challenge for women, it’s a business and economic issue.
Women and International Business
The economic effects of women’s equality can be very personal. We know that earnings and income levels affect equality. Sadly, women’s incomes remain to be unfairly out of balance in many areas. Today successful organizations recognize that a natural extension of good business practice is going to include the fostering of gender diversity. More gender balance leads to greater market reach, improved services and a positive contribution to local communities.
A 2018 study by Angus Reid showed 16% of Canadians could be categorized as “struggling” economically. This means an ongoing difficulty covering expenses for basics including food, utilities, winter clothing, housing, and dental care. Many women have to use the services including “pay day loans” and food banks to get by. Of Canadians in the “struggling” category, 60% are women. When you consider women who are Indigenous, disabled, racialized, and new immigrants, those percentages increase causing more women to be disadvantaged.
Education is critical for equality because it is innovation and technology that will provide unprecedented opportunities. Trends indicate there may be a growing gender digital divide because women are under-represented in the field of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and design. It prevents them from developing and influencing gender-responsive innovations to achieve transformative gains for society.
From mobile banking to artificial intelligence and the internet of things, it is vital that women’s ideas and experiences equally influence the design and implementation of the innovations that shape our future societies. For this reason, Canada has designated its own IWD 2019 sub theme #InnovateForChange.
Although the focus around women’s paychecks tends to be centered on how incomes match up to those of men, there are also discrepancies between what women in different careers make compared to one another. Various careers bring in higher salaries for women: healthcare occupations, law, management, and technology jobs are among the top moneymaking positions.
“A gender-equal society would be one where the word ‘gender’ does not exist: where everyone can be themselves.”
— Gloria Steinem
Women and Politics
The record-breaking number of women candidates running for US office in 2018 drew comparisons with the last time there was a so-called “Year of the Woman” 26 years ago. The 2018 midterm elections saw the biggest jump in women elected to the US House of Congress since 1992 when more new women were elected to Congress than in any previous decade. This time the new 2019 Congressional class was the youngest and most diverse in history, ushering in a wave of political firsts that include the first two Native American women and the first two Muslim women elected.
On the international stage, Angela Merkel is considered to be the most powerful woman in the world. There are many who would argue that she is also now also the leader of the free world.
1992 was a wave. But the waves are bigger now.
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“Somewhere out in this audience may even be someone who will one day follow in my footsteps, and preside over the White House as the President’s spouse. I wish him well!” ~ Barbara Bush