At Talentedge we would normally look at International Women’s Day through the lens of careers and work life but the last year has seen the professional and private converge and while some appreciated the benefits of lockdown there is also a huge amount of women who have seen the inequalities of both home and work combine within one space. Many girls (and boys) will have witnessed their mothers take on the lion’s share of home schooling and housework whilst also home working throughout the pandemic. According to a survey published by The Sunday Times young women and girls also shouldered a disproportionate share of housework and childcare duties during this time. The recent reports on how Covid has impacted women demonstrate just how much it has exacerbated existing inequalities. Last year we asked ‘Is IWD still relevant?’ and it turns out that it’s more relevant than ever.
This year’s International Women’s Day theme is ‘Choose to Challenge’. It’s a call to action for everyone to actively challenge gender bias and inequalities in order to drive positive change. The theme puts the spotlight on individual agency and accountability – placing the responsibility on each person to challenge their own and other’s thoughts and actions.
As children return to school and we emerge into a post lockdown, vaccinated world to establish a “new normal”, we have a fantastic opportunity to challenge the assumptions and ideas of pre-covid life both at work and in the home. Hopefully the positive aspects of lockdown such as the lack of commute, adoption of online meetings and increased tolerance of the overlapping of personal and professional life can be retained by employers. The more flexible work life is and the easier it is to combine with home life the less need women would have to compromise or curtail their career ambitions as they grow their family. This would almost certainly translate into more women in leadership roles and greater parity of income throughout the workforce.
Over the last few years at Talentedge we have interviewed many women for International Women’s Day and it’s clear that they have spent their careers challenging assumptions and bias and that many have been strongly supported in this by parents, partners and friends. If children are brought up in an environment where gender equality is the norm in their earliest years and they are supported by those who promote it through their actions then that generation can build the foundations of a world where IWD is a day on which we celebrate a battle that has already been won.
I recently asked my goddaughter if she had ever been told she couldn’t do something because she was a girl. The bemused, uncomprehending expression on her face was similar to the one I would probably have if someone asked me if I fancied going out for dinner this weekend ! She is one of the fortunate ones who is growing up with the assumption that she will be treated equally – it would be lovely to think that in the coming years her view of the world is the norm for everyone.