Since it began, International Women’s Day has celebrated the social, political, economic, and cultural achievements of women worldwide. The world continues to be inspired by women such as Kamala Harris, the first female, African American and Asian American Vice President of the United States, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the first woman and the first African to be chosen as Director-General of the WTO and Serena Williams who is one of the most accomplished tennis players of all time having won 23 Grand Slam singles titles.
The achievements of women throughout history have often required incredible will and determination for the individual to move forward despite limits placed on them by society. These numerous, remarkable, and widespread contributions have helped shape the world we live in, but credit for successes have often been misrepresented, or underreported in the history books.
The centuries old fight against gendered bias and inequality needs to gather pace. The World Economic Forum’s ‘Global Gender Gap Report 2020’ shows that gender parity will not be attained for 99.5 years. Therefore it is important that International Women’s Day also encourages us to lobby for accelerated gender parity, an idea which underpins this year’s theme ‘Choose to Challenge’.
With a shared vision, both individuals and groups can collectively collaborate to raise worldwide awareness. From joining fundraisers for female-focused charities to starting a discussion provides a platform for meaningful narratives, resources, and activity. Resources provided by International Women’s Day can help facilitate visibility of this celebration and call to action. As the organisers of International Women’s Day comment, “From challenge comes change, so let’s all choose to challenge.”
“I think this is an extremely important topic that as many of us as possible, both men and women, should bring into our everyday lives. Until relatively recently fighting for gender equality was seen as something only fought for by the most radical in society. This has changed. Fighting for gender equality is increasingly seen as common sense in a civilised society, rather than as a fringe issue. “Choosing to challenge” no longer means taking the minority position and fighting against the tide of opinion. “Choosing to challenge” is something we all can and should do in our every day lives by simply questioning existing norms and asking ourselves if we can do better. I think we can do better, but we all need to be an active part of the process, no matter how small our individual contribution may be.” Sandeep Basra, Director of HL Kempner
“We can all play a part in choosing to challenge and as part of DiveIn (our D&I Group) I raise my hand, wear purple in pride as my way of reiterating the importance of uplifting women. I feel what is most crucial is advocating a mindset and promoting inclusivity in the workplace. I love my job in HR and am very lucky that I work in a very collaborative and support environment. In my 29 years in HR I have experienced examples of stereotypes and biases such as the ‘old boys network’ and ‘wolf whistles’ across the shop floor in an Engineering company I used to work at which were tolerated and accepted by my male manager. I believe times have changed but we all need to play our part in calling out biases, questioning stereotypes to help forge a better more inclusive workplace.” Sue Antoine, Head of HR