It's International Women's Day – will you #ChooseToChallenge?

Today, March 8th, is International Women's Day (IWD), a worldwide celebration of women’s cultural, political, economic and social achievement.

IWD is also a call to action for equality. All over the world, groups are coming together to celebrate and rally for women. It’s one of the most important days to:

  • celebrate the achievements of women
  • raise awareness about equality for women
  • fundraise for charities focused on women
  • lobby to accelerate gender parity in the workplace

99 years to gender parity at work?

Groups around the world are striving to close the gap between men’s and women’s opportunities at work.

The drive for gender parity has particular relevance this year in the light of sobering news from the  World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2020, which indicates that none of us will see gender parity at work in our lifetimes: at the current rate of progress, it won’t be achieved for 99.5 years.

According to the report, the biggest obstacle to closing the economic gender gap is the underrepresentation of women in emerging roles. Here are the statistics on the percentage of women in some of today’s most innovative fields:

  • Data and AI: 26%
  • Engineering: 15%
  • Cloud computing: 12%

This also creates an issue for future talent pipelines: a lack of women in entry-level positions today means a lack of women in leadership positions tomorrow.

To close this gap, workforce strategies need to focus on enabling women to improve their skills or reskill so they’re ready for the challenges and opportunities the Fourth Industrial Revolution presents. Other areas for improvement are diverse hiring, creating inclusive workplace cultures where those diverse hires will want to stay, and equal pay.

Gender parity isn’t just a statistic: it’s a real socio-economic need. Women are half the world’s talent. When half the people don’t have a fair chance to contribute, economies can’t grow and thrive the way they should.

So what can individuals do?

#ChooseToChallenge

Every year, the IWD campaign comes with a different theme. 2021’s is #ChooseToChallenge. That means challenging and calling out inequality and gender bias when we see it – including in ourselves.

“From challenge comes change,” says the International Women’s Day website. The website calls on users to show their commitment to challenge by taking a selfie with a hand raised and sharing it on social media with the hashtags #ChooseToChallenge