Today we would like to spotlight International Women’s Day (IWD). IWD is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and apolitical achievements of women. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women’s achievements or rally for women’s equality.
Marked annually on March 8th, International Women’s Day is one of the most important days of the year to celebrate women’s achievements and raise awareness about women’s equality. For 2021, the campaign theme for International Women’s Day is Choose to Challenge. A challenged world is an alert world. Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day. We can each 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.
We challenge things today because history has shown that’s what it’s taken to influence change over the years. In a letter penned by Abigail Adams, first lady to John Adams, she urged him to “remember the ladies” when setting Constitutional laws. Despite the limitation of her gender, Abigail was confident that women could be capable leaders and decision makers, an idea that made her America’s first feminist.
To date, women around the world have challenged men and their situations to achieve their constitutional rights to vote, to get closer to gender equity, and reduce discrimination. Those past challenges included very public efforts similar to what we’ve seen in recent years through expressions within the #MeToo movement and the women’s march on January 21, 2017. While women have found more equity within work and leadership roles, these recent activities revolve around standing out against additionally limiting factors: a normalization of sexual impropriety. Women have been placed into uncomfortable situations where they can be demeaned or treated in a manner that is more about her sex than her strength. These are the struggles that many women deal with in their normal lives and sometimes on their path to success.
Let’s focus for a bit on women who’ve followed a path to success and have had notable firsts this past year. Top of mind is the first woman vice president, a historic and impactful representation of how far women have come 100 years after first winning the right to vote in the U.S. There are now a record number of women CEOs in the Fortune 500 companies, more than 8 percent, including more women of color than ever before. While still a weak representation, this is an increase and a step in the right direction. In the field of science, women have been instrumental in the development of the COVID-19 vaccine and in helping NASA land a rover on Mars. We no longer have to imagine women breaking new ground as coaches and leaders in the world of sports. We have Kim Ng who was named general manager of the Miami Marlins and Katie Sowers who became the first female coach to make it to the Super Bowl.
We celebrate these achievements and at the same time acknowledge the level of effort that was required in order to stand out and become trailblazers. On International Women’s Day and every day, we must work to create a society where the contributions, struggles, experiences, and lives of women are valued. Today we encourage you to acknowledge the women in your life, their achievements, and their struggles.