International Women's Day 2019

Let’s talk about gender equality.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #BalanceforBetter; promoting a more gender-balanced world and how we all can help achieve this. They offer ideas such as, celebrate women’s achievements; raise awareness against bias; and take action for equality. I thought I’d look back at some campaigns promoting gender-balance around the world to spark some ideas of how we can all do our bit.

Over the last few years we’ve seen a mass movement towards stamping out sexual harassment and sexual violence through the #metoo and Time’s Up campaigns. The #metoo hashtag burst on to social media in October 2017, when allegations against Harvey Weinstein hit the headlines. You’ll be forgiven for mixing the two campaigns up as they both hit Hollywood at the same time, with stars wearing black at awards ceremonies, speeches becoming more honest and political, and HR sexual harassment grievances increasing across the globe. The #metoo and Time’s Up campaigns have changed the culture around sexual harassment and violence and encouraged conversation around such an important subject.

HeforShe is a UN Women campaign inviting men to stand up for gender equality, highlighting that they are part of the solution if we want a gender-balanced world. It talks about being bold, standing in solidarity with women and being a united force. The campaign provides a guide on how to be a male ally which can be downloaded from their website. They also have impact champions from higher education institutions, corporate companies and heads of state who use their influence to advance the campaigns agenda.

January 21st, 2017 was the first day of Donald Trump’s presidency, and also the date of the first women-led march. The women’s march happened all over the world, with women coming together and marched for equality of all people and the protection of their diverse and vibrant communities. Since that day there have been two more marches, and the campaign strives to not only involve women in these marches, but all genders, all races, cultures and backgrounds to affirm a shared rhetoric.

A US campaign named ‘2020 women on boards’ has a goal to achieve a percentage of 20% of women on boards across the nation by 2020. They’ve highlighted that the movement has already started in some larger companies, but that in smaller companies there is still a struggle. This, in my eyes, doesn’t highlight that smaller companies are less diverse, even though it says that on this campaign’s website; what it does highlight to me is that unfortunately smaller companies don’t always have the resource that larger companies do to invest in more informed recruitment searches. If there’s a role to be filled, quite often they need to fill it quickly and that could potentially have some unconscious bias involved. What I would say to smaller companies is, regularly developing staff in diversity, inclusion and unconscious bias can be just as important as recruiting a diverse staff team and still helps aid the desire for a gender-balanced world.

I both love and hate awareness days, because part of me thinks that if we keep calling things a minority then they’ll never change, but then the other half of me thinks, if we don’t raise awareness then again, things won’t change. So, I’m pleased to highlight some of the great campaigns for gender equality happening right now and hope it inspires whoever is reading this to think more about how they can help create a gender-balance world.

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