International Women’s Day is an annual celebration of the social, cultural, economic and political achievements of women.
On 8 March each year, people come together across the globe to rally for women’s equality through widespread activities.
Why is this day important?
Although the world has made significant progress, no country has yet achieved gender equality.
According to the United Nations, legal restrictions have kept 2.7 billion women from accessing the same choice of jobs as men. As of 2019, less than 25% of parliamentarians were women. Additionally, one in three women experience gender-based violence.
This day gives us the opportunity to reflect on the progress made, raise awareness of women’s equality and celebrate acts of courageous women who’ve made an imprint on our history and communities.
Clearly, there is much more to be done in the fight for gender equality, so try and do what you can to make a positive difference for women.
This year’s official theme, #ChooseToChallenge, encourages people to speak out against gender bias and inequality. From challenge comes change, so by embodying this theme, we can help create an inclusive world.
UN Women has also announced the theme ‘Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a Covid-19 World’. The recent pandemic has demonstrated how effectively women leaders and women’s organisations have been in leading the Covid-19 response through their skills, knowledge and networks. This theme focuses on the recent acceptance that women bring different experiences, perspectives and skills to the table.
How are we celebrating International Women’s Day?
The Keighley College Engineering department is hosting a creative session on Thursday 11 March at 10am, giving anyone the opportunity to create a mobile phone holder design.
Our expert staff will be talking through the simple mathematical coordinates needed to create the design. Once all the designs are submitted, the team will pick a winner whose design will be 3D printed on the day. Join by clicking this Google Meet link.
Women in leadership
We spoke with some of our women leaders at college to find out their thoughts on International Women’s Day.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
Clare Fitzgerald, Head of Stakeholder Engagement and Growth at Keighley College: “International Women’s Day offers a great opportunity to celebrate the amazing achievements by women and it puts equality at the centre of everything. Women need to be empowered to achieve what they want to achieve.”
Eleni Tsobanoglou, Programme Manager of Service Professions at Keighley College: “Less of needing to prove yourself just because of your gender.”
What does the 2021 theme #ChooseToChallenge mean for you in your work life?
Eleni: “A more gender-balanced workplace. Being part of an organisation that better represents the attitudes and priorities that reflects my own life experiences.”
Will Keighley College be doing anything to celebrate?
Clare: “There will be activities across college which we as a team will take part in.”
Why did you choose the career that you are in?
Eleni: “I love to work with young people and help them achieve their goals.”
Why did you decide to work within the education sector?
Clare: “I am a fairly recent convert to the education sector and I love it! There is a unique energy when students are in college and it is fantastic to see students progress and develop during their time with us.”
What does Keighley College/your department do to overcome gender stereotypes?
Clare: “Our team has lots of interaction with apprentices; their development and adaptability is great to see and they are such a valuable resource in local businesses. As an organisation, diversity and inclusivity is key – it enables everyone to develop and have the same opportunities.”
Eleni: “Adhere to college policy and foster an atmosphere of intolerance to the use of gender stereotypes.”
In your opinion, why is it important that more women take up leadership roles?
Clare: “I think it is important to have representation of all genders in all roles, that way everyone has role models and realises they have the opportunity to progress into any role they want to.”
Eleni: “To further redress the balance and lead to equal representation in the sector.”
What more do you think can be done to encourage more women into leadership roles?
Clare: “The key is for the same opportunities to be available to everyone. Having leadership that is fully representative of society needs to be the norm.”
Eleni: “Ensure equal pay and encourage the promotion of role models and a positive image of women in leadership roles.”
On International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?
Clare: “I would encourage any woman to go for what they want. Work hard, be positive and determined and find a career you really love.”
Eleni: “Go for it! Education will open the door to a bright future where gender is no barrier.”
Jasmine Hibbert, Level 4 Engineering student, reflected on her own experience in a typically male-dominated industry.
“International Women’s Day is an ideal opportunity to encourage women into new challenges and less traditional careers, such as engineering.
“I chose to pursue a career in engineering as I was passionate about designing projects through practical work. I began working as an engineering apprentice at Produmax, where I gained fantastic experience while understanding the work environment.
“It’s important for more women to pursue careers in engineering as there’s a fantastic variety of roles, from manual work to management, design, planning and quality. As this industry is male-dominated, we need to address this balance and encourage more women to see the value of these roles.”
Take a look at the International Women’s Day resources here.