International Women’s Day (IWD) has been celebrated for more than a century, with the first gathering being supported by a million people in 1911. In 1975, which was also International Women’s Year, the United Nations (UN) officially recognized IWD as March 8. Today, IWD belongs to all groups and communities everywhere and celebrated across the world and organizations, big or small.
It is the day when we commemorate the economic, social, cultural, and political achievements of women all around the world. More importantly, it’s a day we can choose to challenge and call out gender bias and make a call to action to accelerate women’s equality. Fittingly, the IWD 2021 campaign theme is #ChooseToChallenge.
A world where we choose to challenge the norm is a world that is alert and ready to act. It’s a world where we are all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – every minute of every day. It’s a world where we challenge gender stereotypes and call out gender actions or assumptions.
As the CEO of dotdigital, it’s a day I look inward and try to observe how, as a company, we’ve chosen to challenge existing ways of working, biases, and stereotypes.
2020 was a year like none other and together we proved we were resilient and agile. But we also know that the pandemic had a greater impact on women. We took this opportunity to harness a more flexible working environment and provided working from home opportunities for our employees. This enabled better gender parity in caring responsibilities, as well as encouraging a better work-life balance.
According to the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs, less than 50% of working-age women are in the labor market. And more shockingly, this figure has barely changed in 25 years! In terms of power and decision making, the same report states that women held only 28% of managerial positions globally in 2019 – and that proportion has not changed since 1995.
From challenge comes change and to get the future we want, we must all #ChooseToChallenge. I would go one step further in saying, it’s almost not a choice, it’s a necessity. I will leave you with the words of Gloria Steinem, renowned feminist, journalist, and activist who explained, ‘‘The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.’’