Every year, International Womens Day provides a timely reminder of the essential role that women have played (and continue to play) in our collective history. Its on this day, more than any other, that we take time out to reflect on the struggles and achievements of some of the iconic women who have helped to shape and pave the way for many of the privileges we enjoy today – whether these are in wider society, in the workplace or at home.
This year, honouring this event is more vital than ever, given that so many women around the world still come up against unimaginable hardships in all areas of their daily lives. Whilst social struggles persist, its also important to acknowledge that many women across the world continue to be denied access to education, and even rights over their own bodies.
The continued importance of International Womens Day in 2020 is centred around the need to reflect on our privileges as women and ensure we remain switched on to the plight of women from all backgrounds and societies, working towards the goal of ensuring equality for women everywhere.
The changing role of women
Throughout my career, Ive been privileged to witness a growing number of women breaking through the glass ceiling and taking their places as CEOs and leaders in industry, business and politics. And where these great icons of modern times are much-celebrated, such as Marissa Meyer, Arianna Huffington and Michelle Obama – these women still remain in the minority. There are a number of reasons for this, but in my opinion one of the big issues is that women are continually undermined by a societal and historical assumption that their role is the primary caregiver for children. As a result, career women who then go on to have families and desire more flexibility can often struggle to achieve a suitable and sustainable work-life balance.
Society often pushes these women into abandoning their career goals by failing to provide a number of resources and opportunities – such as overarching rights to flexible working, shared parental leave (which are currently dependent on individual employers) and affordable childcare – the UK has some of the highest childcare costs in Europe. For all intents and purposes, the balancing act that many mothers must perform in order to remain successful career women is looked upon as something that is unavoidable, and this is something that, I believe, needs to change if we are ever to achieve real equality for women at all levels of society.
The main theme behind International Womens Day 2020 is #EachForEqual, an idea built on the belief that an equal world is an enabled world. This is something that ties in very neatly with my own thoughts on the need for fairness and equality in all areas of society. And whilst its important to celebrate the existence of International Womens Day, I truly believe that the values behind it should be something that we incorporate into the fabric of our lives at every opportunity – at home, at work and absolutely everywhere in between. Weve already achieved so much, lets not stop until the goal of equality has been realised.
My female icons
As mentioned throughout this blog, the contribution of women to all areas of society, whether in the fields of politics, industry or arts cannot be understated. In my life, Ive looked up to a great many female icons and some of these are listed below:
- Michelle Obama Her dedication to public service throughout her life is so inspirational, and she had to perform the ultimate juggling act between work and home life!
- Margaret Atwood – Ive loved her books since my teens. They challenge societys perceptions of women and she has created some incredible, complex characters which have lasted throughout the years.
- Kate Bush – She wasnt afraid to take a completely unique approach to her music. She was an original and an innovator, and she blended conceptual art, dance and storytelling with some of the most iconic music of the time.
International Womens Day 2020 takes place on 8th March 2020.