What International Women’s Day means to me …
International Women's Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women's equality. Across London and the world, events are being held to commemorate this day and to highlight the need for gender equality. Gender equality is not only essential for economies and communities to thrive but it is key to business, big and small and also to the education and future of our children.
Whilst these far-reaching aims are definitely noteworthy, it doesn’t help however to explain what International Women’s Day means to me, personally. Why should I particularly care about International Women’s Day (IWD); after all its just another of those days in the diary, like World Banana Day (12 September) or National Kissing Day (6 July)?
Whilst these far-reaching aims are definitely noteworthy, it doesn’t help however to explain what International Women’s Day means to me. Why should I particularly care about International Women’s Day (IWD); after all its just another of those days in the diary, like World Banana Day (12 September) or National Kissing Day (6 July)?
So why do I care about IWD?
I have, to my knowledge, never experienced discrimination related to my gender. I have had the same opportunities as my male friends and colleagues. My brother and I, for example, went to exactly the same university and both ended up at the same magic circle law firm. I don’t think being a woman has ever held me back. In fact, it has been a positive advantage at times.
And yet, I am one of the lucky ones. There are millions of women globally who suffer from discrimination, inequality and unfair treatment just because of their sex. In the UK, women between 30 and 45, are still discriminated against. 33% of employers say they would avoid hiring a woman of childbearing age whilst 77% of working mums have encountered negative or discriminatory treatment at work. There are still too many industries, aviation for example, which are male dominated where equality is still a long way away. And then there is the never-ending dilemma of childcare or eldercare. Who takes responsibility and the consequences of that decision results in a very uneven playing field for women across the world.
When I came back to work after having children, I wasn’t necessarily discriminated against but life was not very easy. I decided then that my business was going to be very different. (If you would like to find out more, may I recommend an article recently published by Obelisk Support who featured me in their thought space “Attic”?) Parental Choice is 60% female owned and 100% female run. We focus on helping improve gender equality within businesses too by ensuring women have the practical and emotional support and advice I didn’t and many others still don’t necessarily get from their employers. For more information, please go to www.parentalchoice.co.uk. In 2015, we were named by Working Families, as one of the Top Ten SMEs to work for and in 2019 I was honoured by We are the City as a Rising Star Champion, recognising the work I, and my company do, to promote the female talent pipeline.
I am not an ardent feminist but supporting women as they go through life's journey has become a key goal for me, not just because of my business but because I have two daughters who I want to grow up in an equal society with equal opportunities. For me, IWD represents the strive for independence and equality for women, giving girls (and my daughters in particular) something to aspire to. Having a day of focus for women empowers us all to know that we can create a unique path in life, own our decisions and live the way which suits us, wherever we are on our journey. IWD is having the ability to have a choice, to have the same opportunities as everyone else and having the support and ability to make a difference.
Parental Choice work with businesses who are looking to create a more gender balanced workplace.
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