Why International Women’s Day?

March 8, International Women’s Day (IWD), is a very important and significant day celebrated globally to raise awareness of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and girls, and to put the spotlight on the advancements and work yet to be done. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity and gender justice.

IWD is not a new day of awareness. The first International Women’s Day was observed on March 19, 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. That day, more than one million women and men showed their support by participating in public events. Following that monumental year, other countries began to observe and celebrate this day.

International Women’s Day has become a celebration of unity and togetherness, to reflect on how far we’ve come as a society and to advocate for action toward further improvements.

One of the main obstacles for women continues to be inequality. IWD looks to bring the spotlight to this important issue and level the field. The United Nations for Women call it ‘gender justice’. Gender justice “entails ending the inequalities between women and men that are produced and reproduced in the family, the community, the market and the state. It also requires that mainstream institutions – from justice to economic policymaking – are accountable for tackling the injustice and discrimination that keep too many women poor and excluded.”  – UN Women (2010)

This International Women’s Day, it’s time for us to work together and make advancements for fair and livable wages, for freedom from violence, for opportunities to thrive, for human rights and dignity: for gender justice.

The pandemic has exacerbated the cracks of inequality

The advancements for women heralded by men and women alike over the last decades, are being partially undone as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The pandemic has shaken the foundations of progress and exacerbated the cracks of inequality: rising gendered violence, the demands of unpaid caregiving, the devaluing of “women’s work”, and a widening poverty gap, to name a few. And the gaps are greater for those who face more barriers due to racism, ableism, transphobia, heterosexism, and other forms of discrimination. 

The pandemic circumstances intensify inequalities related to gender, and other factors, such as economic status, race, culture, language, and other intersecting elements of our identities.

It is important to understand the intersectional gendered implications of the pandemic, especially in the areas of gender-based violenceeconomic securitygirls’ empowerment, and inclusive leadership.~ Canadian Women’s Foundation.  You can learn more about the important work the Canadian Women’s Foundation is doing in their work, campaigns, and their podcast.

The International Women’s Day Organization

Each year a theme is selected by the International Women’s Day organization and in 2021, the IWD campaign theme is #ChooseToChallenge.

According to International Women’s DayA challenged world is an alert world. Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day.  We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.  From challenge comes change, so let’s all choose to challenge.”

SOROPTIMIST INTERNATIONAL IS A GLOBAL VOLUNTEER MOVEMENT

Another organization doing powerful work to help women and girls is Soroptimist International. Founded in 1921, Soroptimist International is a global volunteer movement with a network of around 72,000 club members in 121 countries. Advocating for human rights and gender equality, at the heart of Soroptimist International’s advocacy is its work across eight UN Centres, where our UN representatives ensure that the voices of women and girls are heard.

The membership work on grassroots projects that help women and girls achieve their individual and collective potential, realize aspirations and have an equal voice in communities worldwide.  Their advocacy work and on-the-ground projects directly contribute to helping women and girls access their human rights across the World. The local groups are made up of passionate women who want to make a difference in their local community and around the world. Learn more About Soroptimist here.

So how will you help to move the needle forward for social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and girls, including gender equality? Will you raise your hand and #ChooseToChallenge? We all have to door our part. “The actions of one create the ripples to become the actions of many.” ~Deb Alcadinho, Westshore Women’s Business Network.

There are no shortage of amazing groups, organizations and movements working to improve the lives of women and girls, both locally and globally. We encourage you to find causes that move you, that inspire you to make a difference. At Westshore Women’s Business Network we endeavor to support our members, their businesses, and the parts they are playing in advocacy for women. We support women’s initiatives in our community both financially and to raise their visibility of programs, services and outreach. We truly are better and stronger together.

On this International Women’s Day, let’s celebrate how far we’ve come as a society. But recognize there is tremendous work yet to be done and take action to have a part in making a difference for ALL women and girls.

Deb Alcadinho is the CEO & Founder of Westshore Women’s Business Network (WWBN) in Victoria, BC Canada. WWBN believes in the power of connection, the strength of collaboration and the value of community. Founded in 2010, the organization offers a warm, relaxed and inviting space for female entrepreneurs and professional women to come together, build relationships and connections, grow their business, learn and be inspired. www.WWBNVictoria.com

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