International Women’s Day
This week, our theme is ‘Be Open-minded about Internationalism, Religion and Culture’. The fact that we are frequently reminded of the need to think about The Female Lead made me think about the forthcoming International Women’s Day on the 8 March 2018. This is not just because we are a single sex school in Years 7 – 11, but because I feel strongly that we need to be aware of what is happening in the world.
Started by the Suffragettes in the early 1900's, the first International Women’s Day was celebrated in 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, with more than a million men and women attending rallies campaigning for women’s rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination.
Glenda Stone, Global Campaign Co-Ordinator for International Women’s Day is noted to say that “No-one owns International Women’s Day,” There are a lot of groups that try to claim the day but there is a wonderful Gloria Steinem quote to highlight what she believes, and I agree, sums it up nicely. She says: ‘The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all that care about human rights.’ This is why I think we must collectively acknowledge the day – particularly in a girls’ school!
Gloria Steinem goes on to say: “That’s a great frame for International Women’s Day because it means so many different things to so many people around the world, for some it is that call to action, for some it is fighting the good fight, for some it is celebrating women, for others it is a way to engage their employees and for others it is a great get together. The unifying rally really resonates and speaks not just to women, but to men and non-binary people around the world who really want to see a more gender inclusive society.”
Gender equality is important in many walks of life, but especially in a girls’ school. I believe that we must educate our girls for the world of work and life in general, and as such, they must understand the importance of gender equality at home, in business and across our global gateway. There needs to be a fundamental and genuine change in attitude by some. Employers and broader society need to embrace gender equality because they recognise the benefits it brings – rather than because they feel they have to because women are standing up and saying it must happen.
With the World Economic Forum's 2017 Global Gender Gap Report, findings telling us that gender parity is over 200 years away - there has never been a more important time to keep motivated and ‘Press for Progress’ which is the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day. There is a strong global momentum striving for gender parity. Whilst we know that gender parity will not happen overnight, the good news is that across the world, women are making positive gains day by day.
International Women's Day belongs to all communities everywhere - governments, companies, charities, educational institutions, networks, associations, the media and more. Whether through a global conference, community gathering, classroom lesson or dinner table conversation - everyone can play a purposeful part in pressing for gender parity. As such, we will be promoting ‘Press for Progress’. International Women's Day is not country, group or organisation specific. The day belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. I see our role at Invicta not to dictate, but to make our students aware and then enable them to make an informed opinion. So together, we will all be aware that a hundred years on, the fight for women’s rights continues. We will make International Women's Day a day to inform, reflect, discuss and debate about what we can do to truly make a positive difference for women – not just in the UK but across the world!