International Women’s Day

The 8th March 2021 is International Women’s Day, join us as we celebrate and look at the contributions that women make towards the workplace, and how we can get all get involved in marking this important awareness day.

International Women’s Day 2021 #ChoosetoChallenge

Author: Lauren Mawson, HR Business Partner for PACT HR

Date: 8th March 2021

For over 100 years on 8th March every year across the globe, International Women’s Day aims to celebrate the many achievements of women, raise awareness of equality and move to speed up the achievement of parity across genders. The theme for IWD 2021 is ‘Choose to Challenge’.

“A challenged world is an alert world. And from challenge comes change.”

Many forms of celebration take place on International Women’s Day worldwide, including fundraising events, campaign launching, lobbying for change and donating to female-focused charities. #ChoosetoChallenge recognises that we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions; we can all choose to challenge gender inequality when we see it and in doing so, contribute to creating a truly inclusive world.

Why do we have an International Women’s Day?

Why not? To quote the United Nations;

“Women and girls represent half of the world’s population and, therefore, also half of its potential”.

Despite this, research shows that sadly, neither us nor our children will see gender parity in our lifetimes, as it’s at least another century away. This is why it’s essential that we don’t get complacent and we continue to do everything we can to achieve true equality and parity for women. Equality doesn’t only refer to pay for instance, it has a huge scope and can include global and societal issues such as access to a good quality of education, employment and political opportunities and eradicating forms of gender violence.

But the education sector has a primarily female workforce…

…this is true. However, this doesn’t guarantee that there is true equality across all policies, procedures, working practices and social norms and interactions.

How often have you asked a female colleague, or if you are a female colleague been asked yourself, “when you are planning on having children?

Maybe it seems a natural question that follows a big life event like buying a house or getting married and doesn’t offend you, but it’s one of many examples of unconscious biases that are conditioned in us by our culture and the abundance of gender stereotypes. We should recognise that not every woman wants or is able to have children, or it might just not be in their plans for the next few years. Or, they may decide to get a dog instead! The sooner we become aware of our unconscious biases, the sooner we can recognise and deter their influence. Despite the introduction of shared parental leave and the many efforts of employers to ensure gender parity in their leadership teams, women remain the primary caregiver in the majority of cases and research continues to show that this can hinder their progression in the labour market.

What can we do?

IWD has made a number of resources available on their website (click here) to help you get involved in celebrating, from webinars and social media templates to posters, videos and even resources specific for schools! (Click here).

PACT HR can also help you with:

  • A staff survey – we can tailor this to your needs and help to draw out valuable feedback from staff on your equality policies and practices.
  • Training – we can design bespoke training to suit the needs of your school, including but not limited to unconscious bias, which can have a huge impact on recruitment and selection but also on the retention of staff.

Contact our Senior HR Business Partner for Consultancy, Kate Earnshaw on to find out more.