Our Chair, Neelam Devesher DL has written the piece below to mark International Women’s Day in her role as a Deputy Lieutenant for Surrey.
International Women’s Day – 8 March (IWD) is an important event in the annual calendar that helps to put raise awareness of gender inequality. We owe it to our daughters and granddaughters to ensure that awareness of gender inequality is highlighted and addressed.
International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on 8 March every year with an aim to honour the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women across the globe.
This day is celebrated to raise awareness about the challenges faced by women in their day-to-day life. This day aims to emphasize on the importance of achieving gender equality, women’s rights and women empowerment.
There is a long way to go to achieve true gender equity, however we must not forget how much has been achieved which we need to celebrate today and every day. Women and girls today are able to access opportunities which our grandmothers and mothers could only dream of.
We owe this to many strong women who have worked tirelessly to make this positive change in circumstances which were much more difficult than we enjoy today. International Women’s Day gives us an opportunity to remember these strong role models – often very personal to us. We all know strong women in our families and communities who have made significant changes that helps us in our daily lives and of course some very well-known women across the world who have made changes that impact on so many lives.
There are many examples of women who have worked tirelessly to create positive change and are role models that give us inspiration for further change. A few examples are:
- Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II – she made her mark as an influential leader with dignity and grace in a world full of male leaders.
- Marie Curie for her contribution to finding treatments for cancers which has helped so many people .
- Rosa Parks for challenging colour segregation and the liberation we enjoy today as result of her bravery.
- Emmeline Pankhurst for her passion in campaigning for womens vote. Women are now integral to the democracy in this country and most of the world.
- Mother Teresa – for her services to humanity and charitable work for the most vulnerable people.
- Malala Yousafzai – who has become a powerful symbol for womens rights and access to education.
- Jessica Ennis- Hill the sports woman and Olympic medallist for inspiring so many women to pursue their dreams.
The first ever Women’s Day was observed in the United States on 28 February 1909 in commemoration of the 15,000 women who protested in New York against harsh working conditions, more working hours, and lesser wages.
IWD has been celebrated since the early 1900s and has become a global movement irrespective of borders, cultures, and ideologies, with the following aims:
- To celebrate women’s achievements
- To educate and awareness raise for women’s equality
- To call for positive change for advancing women
- To lobby for accelerated gender parity and equity
- To fundraise for charities focussed on women’s issues, with projects to raise awareness on gender inequity and developing solutions to increase equity for women and girls
There are different themes for each year for IWD and this year’s theme is: DigitAll – Innovation and technology for gender equality.
Technology, innovation and technology are integral to our lives and the theme of International Women’s Day 2023 will focus on how technology and education in the digital age can help the empowerment of women and girls across the world.
There is also a focus on how to protect the rights of women and girls in digital spaces and how to combat online gender-based violence.
Many experts from the fields of technology and innovation, as well as gender equality activists, will come together to discuss how to improve access to digital tools and bridge the digital skills divide. This will help to make sure that all people have equal access to digital technology and the opportunities it provides.
Equality for women is integral to International Women’s Day and for this there is a global campaign called Embrace Equity, which highlights the need for tailored solutions to achieve true equity.
The campaign aims to encourage important conversations on Why equal opportunities aren’t enough and why equal isn’t always fair.
People start from different places, with different issues and problems with a whole range of diverse barriers that result in inequality of opportunity and access. So, solutions that tackle inequality to achieve true equity and inclusion requires a range of solutions to address the diverse range of issues and barriers that cause inequality.
And to truly embrace equity means to deeply believe, value, and seek out difference as a necessary and positive element of life. To embrace equity means to understand the journey required to achieve women’s equality.
Equity recognizes that each person has different circumstances, and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome. Equity can be defined as giving everyone what they need to be successful. In other words, it’s not giving everyone the exact same thing. If we give everyone the exact same thing, expecting that will make people equal, it assumes that everyone started out in the same place – and this can be vastly inaccurate because everyone isn’t the same.
IWD is not country, group, nor organization specific. No one government, NGO, charity, corporation, academic institution, women’s network, or media hub is solely responsible for IWD. The day belongs to all groups collectively, everywhere.
Gloria Steinem, world-renowned feminist, journalist and activist said “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist, nor to any one organization, but to the collective.”