Tuesday, 8 March 2022 marks International Women’s Day (IWD), and this year’s theme, #BreakTheBias, sets a challenge: to imagine a world free of bias and to then take steps to collectively Break the Bias. Whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead. But knowing bias exists isn’t enough – action is needed to level the playing field.
Imagine a gender equal world.
A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination.
A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.
A world where difference is valued and celebrated.
Together we can forge women's equality.
Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.
International Women's Day is a global observance celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political contributions and achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. IWD has been observed for more than a century, with the first IWD gathering occurring in 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. Growing out of the labour movement, it became an annual event after 1908 when 15,000 women marched through New York demanding shorter working hours, better pay and the right to vote.
According to the World Economic Forum, we will not see gender parity in our lifetime. In fact, because the global COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected women, the proposed timeline of gender parity has been pushed back from 99.5 years to 135.6 years. IWD is more important than ever.
IWD seeks to:
- Celebrate women’s achievements
- Raise awareness about women’s equality
- Lobby for accelerated gender parity
- Fundraise for female-focused charities.
These key points create a basis for women to express their ideas and to tell their stories. Awareness-raising on an individual, business, organisation-wide and worldwide level via meaningful narratives, resources and activity, can help combat gender bias and discrimination to accelerate gender parity. Additionally, identifying, celebrating and increasing visibility of women’s achievements can help forge equality.
“Individually, we're all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day.
We can break the bias in our communities.
We can break the bias in our schools, colleges and universities. We can break the bias in our workplaces.” – IWD
It is important to acknowledge and learn from workplace bias, to question why you might think a female leader is ‘bossy’ or why you might assume that a doctor is always a male. This year’s theme challenges personal and organisational perceptions and potential biases; it is a strength to lead through diversity, to be aware of the benefits of a more diverse workforce and leadership. We all have unconscious bias; becoming aware of one’s bias opens our minds and leads us to a more diverse world.
“Employers need to act now to support, retain, and advance women. Combating the biases women face at work is critical to getting this right. Research shows that bias contributes to women being passed over for jobs and promotions. Almost 60 per cent of women regularly experience microaggressions at work. And women of colour, LGBTQ+ women, and women with disabilities face more acute biases. But fewer than half of employees say they've spoken out against biased behaviour at any point in their career.” – IWD
There are also other themes for IWD. The UN announced its theme for 2022 as Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow, to recognise and celebrate the women and girls who are leading the way on climate change adaption and response.
Says the UN: “The year 2022 is pivotal for achieving gender equality in the context of climate change, and environmental and disaster risk reduction, which are some of the greatest global challenges of the 21st century. Without gender equality today, a sustainable future, and an equal future, remains beyond our reach.”
The UN’s IWD observance event will be held virtually today, 8 March, 10-11:30am EST with special guests including conservationist icon, Dr Jane Goodall, and two women Time magazine has named among the 15 women who will save the world: Dr. Katherine Wilkinson (+ TED talk, How empowering women and girls can help stop global warming), and Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim (+ TED Talk: Indigenous knowledge meets science to take on climate change).
Click here to register for the event.
Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs)
In 2020 and 2021, we outlined the WEPs, which were established by the UN Women and the UN Global Compact Office. WEPs can be used as a tool to help guide organisations on how to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in the workplace, marketplace and community. We believe it is timely to revisit these highly recommended principles and actions that organisations can take to demonstrate their commitment to gender equality:
Principle 1 – Establish high-level corporate leadership for gender equality
Support for this principle could be demonstrated by establishing organisational goals and targets. Consideration could also be given to including goals and targets in performance plans for managers of an organisation.
Principle 2 – Treat all women and men fairly at work – respect and support human rights and non-discrimination
Actions could include offering flexible working arrangements and leave. Reviewing policies and practices to ensure they are inclusive could also foster an inclusive workplace culture.
Principle 3 – Ensure the health, safety and well-being of all women and men workers
A zero-tolerance policy against all forms of violence and harassment at work could be used to demonstrate support for this principle. Further, organisations could also acknowledge the right for all staff to have time off for medical care and counselling for themselves and their dependents.
Principle 4 – Promote education, training and professional development for women
Organisations could demonstrate support for this principle by ensuring equal access to and participation in internal education and training programmes. Training offerings about sexual harassment and unconscious bias could also be considered.
Principle 5 – Implement enterprise development, supply chain and marketing practices that empower women
In support of this principle, organisations could leverage their procurement activities to ensure that their suppliers adopt policies and practices that support equality and are consistent with the WEPs.
Principle 6 – Promote equality through community initiatives and advocacy
The promotion and recognition of women’s leadership and contribution by ensuring their active participation in consultation processes, is a suggested action for support of this principle.
Principle 7 – Measure and publicly report on progress to achieve gender equality
This principle could be supported by organisations benchmarking their achievements by collecting, analysing and using gender statistics to measure and report improvements over time.
At CourtHeath we are heartened that International Women’s Day has evolved to become more than just a day. We are a proud and public supporter of the WEPs since 2018 and a participant in the UN Global Compact.
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For more information about IWD 2022, visit International Women’s Day 2022 Theme.
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A participant in the UN Global Compact, CourtHeath seeks to raise awareness about the Sustainable Development Goals and the principles of the Global Compact with business and government organisations in Victoria.
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