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International Women’s Day was first celebrated in 1911 as a day to recognise women’s roles and achievements and to highlight the continued struggle for equal rights. In some countries it’s celebrated as an official holiday, although sometimes that can simply mean that men take on some of women’s work for the day: actions highly unlikely to bring about structural change. But, importantly, I wonder what International Women’s Day (IWD) means to you, whether you are a man or woman reading this?
The theme for this year’s IWD is Inspiring Change. At the bottom of this article you can read more about the aims for the Day this year.
IWD is a terrific opportunity to focus on what each of us can do to help resolve inequality both in our personal relationships and in the work place. I wonder what you are doing on March 8th to show how you value, support and respect women´s equality? What do words like ‘empowerment’ and ‘equality’ mean to you? Where do ‘equal pay’ and ‘the gendered division of labour’ fit in to your lives? I know some companies devise creative, inspiring and provocative events to highlight both the achievements and the disparities women face at work.
Having got this far, I’d like to ask two things of you: Firstly to spend some time thinking about what is happening within your company in relation to women that is not fair, not equal and perhaps, simply tokenism? I can put before you some of the predictable business arguments about diversity improving business performance; about the fact that most decisions about purchasing holidays are made by women and therefore having women in decision making roles will help improve the robustness of the company’s offer. (See Equality in Tourism’s report.)
However, I’d like to convince you simply because you know that the lack of equality has gone on for too long and because logic and belief in women’s equality is something you support.
Secondly, I’d like you to think about how this could change and what would need to happen to bring it about? Perhaps you and your company would like to take a lead - as well as a challenge - and engage us to carry out a gender audit of your organisation? Maybe it would help all of you in your company if you had some serious discussion about the issues together with introductory training. This could be for you, your board, your managers and the staff, either here in the UK or overseas.
Equality in Tourism is unique. We’re the only group, working internationally, attempting to bring about change in the tourism and hospitality sector so that everybody working within it and affected by it has equal opportunities and that their rights are respected.
Gender equality is instrumental in reducing inequalities, for both men and women.
Because so many women work in the sector, it’s assumed that we have more power than we do. International Women’s Day this year could mark the beginning of real change. Do feel free to contact us to discuss how you could make the change.
International Women's Day 2014: March 8th
Here's what the IWD website says about the theme for this year which is Inspiring Change:
Women's equality has made positive gains but the world is still unequal. International Women's Day celebrates the social, political and economic achievements of women while focusing world attention on areas requiring further action.
Inspiring Change is the 2014 theme for our internationalwomensday.com global hub and encourages advocacy for women's advancement everywhere in every way. It calls for challenging the status quo for women's equality and vigilance inspiring positive change.
The vast array of communication channels, supportive spokespeople, equality research, campaigns and corporate responsibility initiatives means everyone can be an advocate inspiring change for women's advancement.
Each year International Women's Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8. The first International Women's Day was held in 1911. Thousands of events occur to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women. Organisations, governments, charities, educational institutions, women's groups, corporations and the media celebrate the day.
Some groups select their own International Women's Day theme, specific to their local context. For example, the European Parliament's 2013 theme was "Women's response to the crisis" and their 2012 theme "Equal pay for work of equal value".