International Women’s Day (IWD) is an annual event that has celebrated the social, economic and political achievements of women for more than a century. It also shines a spotlight on the need for greater equality that still remains today. Around the world, IWD has become an important catalyst and vehicle for driving greater change for women and moving closer to gender parity.
In 1911, German labor leader Clara Zetkin proposed March 8th be proclaimed International Women’s Day, in recognition of U.S. women workers who led a movement for decent working conditions. Since then, the day has manifested in many forms. From campaigning for women’s suffrage in earlier times to equal representation in politics, and highlighting violence against females in the 21st century, the aim has been to push governments to recognize the necessity of sex and gender equality in law.
But the World Economic Forum predicts the gender gap won’t close for over 200 years and that is simply unacceptable. International Women’s Day is a start but to accelerate closing the gender gap, we must commit to act beyond one day. March 8th sees the annual IWD campaign theme kick off for the year ahead, providing a unified direction to guide and galvanize action.
Last year, IWD’s theme ‘Be Bold for Change’ carried a powerful mandate to build an inclusive, gender equal world and was a call to the masses to help forge a better working world.
This Year’s Theme #PressforProgress
With activism for women’s equality fueled by recent movements, this year’s theme of #PressforProgress champions global momentum of advocacy, activism and support for gender parity. With women and men joining forces and pledging to move from talk to action, we can collectively help harness the potential women offer economies around the world.
But 2017 showcased the need to move far beyond that and actually draw clear boundaries of safe and acceptable behavior towards women in society and workplaces. If anyone doubts that there is strength in numbers, coordinated movements around the world, along with the power of social media seem to indicate otherwise.
The recent attitudinal shift in society’s thoughts about women’s equality may lead us to believe that battles have been won but it will take this movement shifting into an unrelenting revolution to truly change ingrained patriarchy. The IWD’s website asserts, “With more women in the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women’s visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life, one could think that women have gained true equality. The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women’s education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.”
So although great strides have been made, we mustn’t be complacent. There is a strong call-to-action to press forward and progress gender parity – a strong call to #PressforProgress.
I’m Cathy Goddard, Founder of Lighthouse Visionary Strategies and Lighthouse Mentor Network. Beyond that, I’m a life lover, happy wife, dog mama, kind soul and community passionista. I write this Beacon Blog to illuminate the wisdom that we all have in us!