To celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD), we share stories about the important women in our lives and make a pledge for gender parity. Because so many of us are multicultural, not to mention multilingual, we also gained some great insights on how this day is celebrated outside the US!

ROLE MODELS

Although Eleanor Roosevelt (quite rightly) was mentioned, as well as industry colleagues who have inspired us, we kept coming back to our grandmothers and the significant impact they had made. From challenging the status quo and daring to be different, to raising children single-handedly and travelling hundreds of miles across continents, perhaps even more than our own parents, our grandparents set a trend for our generation to expect and insist on gender parity.

STILL A MAN’S WORLD

It feels as though we have come along way, so it was sobering to look at recent CEB research that shows women account for just over half (51%) of the non-management workforce. Going down to 40% for first- and mid-level manager positions, 32% at departmental head level and 21% at top executive level. According to The Best and Worst Places to be a Working Woman, the US doesn’t score too well either, which shows we are still a long way off from smashing that glass ceiling.

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY OVERSEAS

We asked our multicultural Wordbankers to tell us about their experience of IWD. Is it a big deal in their country, and how is it observed? This is what we found out:

  • IWD started in the US, on February 28, 1909, after a declaration by the Socialist Party of America.
  • In Italy, men traditionally give a twig of mimosa to all the women they know. This tradition dates back to 1908 when a lot of women died in a factory fire in New York, and mimosa was chosen as a token to commemorate them.
  • In Poland, women are completely spoiled with flowers, dinner and chocolates.
  • Russia first observed International Women’s Day on the eve of World War I. In 1965, it was declared as a holiday.
  • IWD is an official holiday in 15 countries, including China, Ukraine and Vietnam.
  • In South Africa, IWD is observed today, but on August 9th there are also celebrations to commemorate the thousands of women who lead protests against apartheid.

We are an aspiring B Corp and have also taken a pledge to support equal pay. Because this is where our heart is, we are proud to have played a small role in International Women’s Day and encourage everyone to take part – it’s not too late to make your pledge.