It’s time to stand up and take more notice of women – what they do for their communities, their families and the world in general. Although women make up half of the world’s population, it’s a damning inditement of much of our global society that there are still inequalities in the world based on gender and in many places, being born a woman can still lead to having less freedoms, less income and opportunity, and less security. International Women’s Day (IWD), celebrated globally on the 8th March, aims to celebrate the remarkable achievements that women have made across the globe whilst raising awareness of the problems still to be tackled.
The website dedicated to the day, at https://www.internationalwomensday.com/ says:
“Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women’s equality. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.”
It’s a strong call to action for everyone, wherever they are, to come together to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, artistic, scientific and political achievements of women whilst standing up for women’s equality. This list is not exhaustive, as women have achieved in all walks of life. Early years childcare is a sector that is predominantly made up off emale practitioners, who have a massive impact on the lives and outcomes of the children in their care. So isn’t it time we get the recognition we deserve for the important job we do, and stand up for other women around the world too?
History of International Women’s Day
It’s no new thing to want to celebrate women’s achievements. For decades, women were relegated to the role of second-class citizens, treated as the property of others and kept out of education, business and politics. The movement began out of the unrest of women in countries across the world at the way they were being treated. In 1911 a group of women set up the first IWD which was supported by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland and it has been growing and gathering momentum ever since. Obviously, a lot has changed since 1911 but there is more to be done.
IWD does not represent a political organisation, a country, educational group or other NGO, but it is an exciting force for change that we can all join in with regardless of the gender we identify as, and it is supported by many charities, partners, friends and collaborations across the world.
2022 theme and missions
The theme for this year is “Break the Bias” using the hashtag #BreakTheBias and a pose to help people show their support and solidarity. The pose consists of crossing the arms in front of the chest with the palms facing downwards (like an ‘X’) and people all over the world are encouraged to photograph themselves in the pose, and post their pictures online to show their support.
There are also 7 missions that IWD is highlighting to help “forge a gender equal world” and “call out inequality”. The missions are based around:
- Raising greater awareness about issues impacting women’s equality
- Taking a stance to call out inequality while working to forge positive action
- Highlighting and applauding where important gains are being made
- Celebrating women’s achievements and accomplishments
These 7 missions and their aims are:
- Women in technology mission - to celebrate digital advancement and champion the women forging innovation through technology
- Women at work mission - to forge inclusive work cultures where women’s careers thrive, and achievements are celebrated
- Women forging change mission - to elevate women forging change via technology and sustainability in communities, workplaces and beyond
- Women’s health mission - to assist women to be in a position of power to make informed decisions about their health
- Women creatives mission - to celebrate the work of women creatives and elevate visibility for commercial projects and commissions
- Women’s empowerment mission - to shine a spotlight on activity encouraging and uplifting women to pursue goals without bias or barriers
- Women in sport mission - to celebrate women athletes and applaud when equality is achieved in pay, sponsorship and visibility
Some people might think that we do not need an International Women’s Day and that we have come a long way since 1911, and that’s true. In the UK, we have laws against gender discrimination, but a quick look down the list of missions will tell you that we still have a way to go. For example, the January 2022 figures still show there is a 4% gender pay gap in the UK; women’s sport is not still equally represented in the media; and the percentage of women in the creatives industries is still not the same as men.
How to celebrate IWD in your setting
There are lots of events that your staff and families can get involved in to celebrate the day, with many continuing throughout the year. You can search online for events near you on the IWD website. These range from free self-defence classes, to dinners, automotive events, exhibitions and talks to name but a few. There are also virtual events that you can join and these are from all over the world.
Closer to home, you could:
- Decorate your setting in the official colours of purple (representing justice and dignity), green (signifying hope) and white (symbolising purity, albeit a controversial concept nowadays)
- Use story time to tell the stories of powerful and independent women – you could choose people to represent each of the missions and there is a lot of inspiration on the website
- Invite a female speaker to your setting to tell her story of technical/industry success, sporting achievement or creativity (or anything else they want to celebrate)
- Use the 7 missions to create a goal board in your setting. Ask everyone (not just girls) what their goals are and create a display showing them
- Make a video showing the achievements of women in your own setting and post it on your social media channels
- Take a photo of your staff and children in the ‘break the bias’ pose and share it to show your support for the day
- Organise a collection for your local women’s refuge
Whatever you do, have fun – the event is a celebration of women and all they do. Remember to send us your photos and stories to firstname.lastname@example.org.