Throughout the Coronavirus pandemic it has been widely reported that women have not been considered fairly, with most women taking on the primary child carer role. advo hr looks at the message behind International Women’s day, which falls this year on 8th March 2021 with some suggestions regarding heightening awareness of gender parity.
IWD is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It was honoured for the first time in 1911.
It is regarded as one of the most important days to:
- celebrate women’s achievements
- raise awareness about women’s equality
- lobby for accelerated gender parity
- fundraise for female-focused charities
Although the world has come a long way from 1911 when IWD was honoured the first time, early evidence from a study by the World Health Organisation (WHO) suggests that women are being hit harder during the current pandemic than in previous economic downturns.
The COVID-19 crisis has provided added challenges in many sectors where women play a leading role. A larger share of women compared to men work in services that have been directly affected by travel restrictions, such as tourism and business travel, as well as in parts of the economy where remote work is not possible like health and retail.
Here in the UK, the UK government has been accused by some MPs of having repeatedly ignored the specific needs of women when crafting its Covid-19 support packages, leading to women experiencing a disproportionate economic impact from the pandemic. Research has identified that the majority of childcare and home-schooling responsibilities have fallen on women during the pandemic. The government’s initial response was that the flexible furlough scheme is supporting employees who are struggling to work because of childcare. However, the government has since changed its advice and confirmed that employers can furlough employees who are unable to work from home, or working reduced hours, because they have caring responsibilities resulting from COVID-19, such as caring for children who are at home as a result of school and childcare facilities closing.
The campaign theme for International Women’s Day 2021 is ‘Choose to Challenge’. A challenged world is an alert world and this may be a time for us all to think about any inequalities and how they may be addressed. This could include reviewing occupations or roles that are historically more male orientated and encouraging females to consider broader career choices or roles that they may have not previously considered.
Having great working relationships with our clients, we are aware that you value the contribution made by all of your employees to your business. However, International Women’s Day may be a wonderful time for you to celebrate female employees’ achievements and to heighten awareness. We would always recommend that you involve your male colleagues in all International Women’s Day activity as this would also support awareness.
You may wish consider to amongst other things:
- wishing everyone Happy International Women’s Day;
- encouraging everyone to wear purple, green and white for the day – the colours of International Women’s Day. Purple signifies justice and dignity, green symbolizes hope and white represents purity;
- having a virtual celebration of International Women’s Day;
- organising a fundraising event for charity.
This may also be a good opportunity to set up a focus group and a safe environment where your female employees may openly express any issues that they feel may be faced in the workplace. This could result in a review of any policies and working practices to consider whether they may have any negative impact on women. This may be the time to hold Diversity and Inclusion training for employees. If you would like to discuss this training need in more detail then please get in touch with advo hr who can design and deliver this training.
International Women’s Day is a time to reflect and for us all to work towards greater gender parity in all aspects of life.