“Men and Women are not meant to compete against each other but to work side by side and for each other” – Edith Marchioness of Londonderry, 1909
As International Women’s Day 2023 is upon us, we have delved into the history, the importance, and what it means for ILS World.
How did it start?
For centuries women have been fighting for the political, economic, and cultural equality of women within the Western World. The first wave feminism movement formally began at the Seneca Falls Convention, New York in 1848, where Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, both proclaimed the Seneca Falls Declaration outlining the new movement’s ideology and political strategies in front of three hundred men and women rallying for equality.
From this stemmed the suffragettes. Lydia Becker, a leader from the suffragette’s movement in Manchester visited the Isle of Man in 1880, with the desire to make changes. By January 31st, 1881, women in the Isle of Man who owned property were given the right to vote. New Zealand (1893), Australia (1902) and Finland (1906) then all started to follow.
In 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter working hours, better pay, and the right to vote. One year later in 1909, the Socialist Party of America declared the first National Women’s Day, however it wasn’t until 1975 when the United Nations started celebrating the day.
Why the 8th of March?
On Sunday 23rd February 1917 Russian women protested for the demand of “bread, peace, and land”, sparking the Russian Revolution. Within four days of the strike, the Tsar was forced to grant women the right to vote.
In Russia this date fell within the Julian calendar, European countries used and still use the Gregorian calendar. Therefore, the 23rd of February corresponded to the 8th of March.
How far have we come?
Fast forward to the 5th wave movement, a wave that is multidimensional, combining politics, economics, culture, and media.
The concept of “waves” began in 1960, it is a way to distinguish each movement in an historical timeline. This can oversimplify what is a more complex history with each movement including smaller overlapping sub-groups that can sometimes be at odds with each other.
The notion of feminism is changing, there is no singular definition, but many causes remain. Since 1848, we have seen major changes, many of which remain controversial.
Movements such as #MeToo and #LikeAGirl have all helped contribute to these changes on a global scale, due to the key component of the 5th Wave social media.
Whilst there are many improvements to celebrate, there are unfortunately women around the world who are still fighting not just for equal pay, or the right to vote, but for basic human rights, freedoms, and safety. Many of the issues faced are centred around deep-rooted cultural or religious beliefs which can be difficult to change.
International Women’s Day 2023
International Women’s Day (IWD) has two themes this year.
The UN’s theme “ DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”, celebrates, supports, and champions the advancement of transformative technology and digital education. Exploring the impact of the digital gender gap on economic and social inequalities, and addressing the importance of protecting the rights of women in a digital space.
The International Women’s Day website theme is #EmbraceEquity. A campaign that is showing the difference between equity and equality and how it is important to understand and acknowledge the difference. Calling out discrimination, drawing attention to bias, and seeking out inclusion.
“Equality is giving everyone a shoe. Equity is giving everyone a shoe that fits” – Dr. Naheed Dosani.
So, what is the difference between the two?
Equality: Being equal to your peers in status, rights, and opportunities.
Equity: Each person is different and has different circumstances that will need different resources in order to reach an equal outcome.
ILS World and Equity
At ILS World, more than half of our global workforce is female, many of whom are in senior leadership positions, board members, and shareholders, including our CEO.
Throughout each of our offices, all staff members have equal opportunity to thrive, limited only by their individual skills and attributes. Gender bias does not exist within our culture. Women are not paid more or less than men, everyone is paid for their role according to their capability, qualifications, responsibilities, and their relevant experience.
We support and encourage equity in all areas of the business, we are all physically and mentally different, those differences should be embraced. We want to empower both men and women as every role within our company is just as important as the next. Adopting an equitable culture where respectfulness to one another is paramount allows us to foster a diverse and inclusive work environment. We are proud that more than half of our staff have been with us for more than 5 years.
Feminism, International Women’s Day, and International Men’s Day are all subjective. It means different things to different people in all parts of the world, with some issues having a much more serious daily impact than others.
Whilst many movements may have the same or similar goals, one thing remains and that is mutual respect amongst all people with everyone being valued for who they are and what they bring to the table. Let’s recognise our differences, strengths, and weaknesses and celebrate the diversity that is human.
If you are looking to get involved in IWD this year, follow the #IWD23 and #EmbraceEquity to follow, engage, educate, and raise awareness. To show support for the campaigns you can dress in purple, green, and white. Colours that represent justice, dignity, hope, and purity.