International Women’s Day (IWD) falls on the 8th of March. This day is observed globally and was first initiated for well over a century with the first gathering held in 1911.
The day marks the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women, and a call to action for accelerating women's equality. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. IWD is not country, group, or organisation specific.
2021’s campaign theme is ‘Choose to Challenge’
This year’s campaign theme is #ChooseToChallenge gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women's achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.
Across the globe, science, technology, engineering and mathematical (STEM) fields are increasingly expected to provide innovative solutions to complex challenges. They are also crucial disciplines for personal and professional achievement. With the current pandemic, the growth of remote work has been phenomenal. Reported by LinkedIn, Southeast Asia (SEA) alone has seen an increase in the number of remote jobs being posted by eight times, with women being 26% more likely to apply than men.
As many as 80 percent of jobs in SEA will also require basic digital literacy and applied Information and communications technology (ICT) skills by the year 2030. While it was reported that less than 30% of the world's researchers are women, Asia has seen significant growth in achievements in possessing some of the top experts in STEM.
Reported by the World Economic Forum, gender gaps in the STEM industry is only projected to close in the next 140 years in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Putting these figures into perspective, it seems to be that we are all still far behind when it comes to achieving gender diversity and balance. Nevertheless, the Global Gender Gap Index 2020 rankings show that the United Arab Emirates ranks 2nd within Middle Eastern and North African countries.
This year’s theme echoes with industries far and wide and resonates with the values of SThree as we continue to push forth equal opportunities for all to pursue careers in STEM.
How is SThree APAC celebrating this day?
At SThree, we are proud to celebrate diversity, equality, inclusion, and STEM opportunities for all. Aligning with the goals of IWD, we will be further amplifying female voices that drive culture and change by bringing to the forefront a video of our Singapore and Japan team, as well as internal and external webinars.
Our Regional Sales Director of Southeast Asia, Alena Salakhova, will also be guesting in a webinar by LinkedIn, as well as sharing her stories of her career growth as a woman in leadership for an internal webinar with our Europe counterparts.
Along with this, our Diversity & Inclusion team members, Anastasija Horoscuka and Sneha Bhavaraju, will be running a short session internally this March to highlight and garner awareness of women who challenged and paved the way for future generations, whilst sharing their own knowledge and experiences for others to follow in their footsteps. They will also be hosting an external webinar that invites women leaders in the STEM markets to share what gender equality means to them and how they have overcome challenges as a woman in leadership.
How is SThree MENA celebrating this day?
Led by our Diversity and Inclusion representatives, Marcos Simonetti, Sushma D'Silva, Aakash Singh and Leher Dewani, the team will be hosting a panel discussion on the 7th of March. The session will set focus on this year's theme of #ChoosetoChallenge, which will provide everyone a platform to call out on biases, question stereotypes, encourage inclusive behaviours and most of all, celebrate the achievements of those who have paved the way for success.
As a form of commitment to this year's theme, the team will also be pledging an oath to this day, and strike the #ChoosetoChallenge pose organised by IWD 2021.
To celebrate this day with our loyal customers, our team will also be speaking to some of our top female candidates globally to find out how they #ChoosetoChallenge in the STEM industry for future generations to come.
How can you play your part?
- Challenge unconscious biases at your workplace
When we look at the things that can affect our relations with others it is a natural human tendency to be drawn towards people that you perceive as being like you. Not only those who are the same gender, race, sexual orientation, or age as you, but also those who have the same work style, way of expressing themselves or opinions. Find out how you can challenge this in our article here.
- Attempt the IWD’s ‘Strike the Choose to Challenge’ pose
Raise your hand high to show that you can commit to choose to challenge and call out inequality. IWD invites you to ‘Strike the Choose to Challenge’ pose and share on social media using #ChooseToChallenge #IWD2021 to encourage further people to commit to helping forge an inclusive world.
- Get your male colleagues involved
Oftentimes, most International Women’s Day celebrations and initiatives are targeted at women. However, it is essential that people of all gender identities are involved in the conversations and become equal advocates for gender parity.
- Be an advocate
To ensure that women continue to progress toward gender equality at work, it is essential that businesses create inclusive working environments. This International Women’s Day examine your company’s policies or challenge your business leaders to ensure that women receive fair and equitable support at work. As a starting point, look at policies related to following areas:
- Diversity and inclusion training for recruitment and hiring employees
- Equitable parental leave
- Flexible work scheduling
- Programs to advance women in leadership positions
- Mentorship or coaching opportunities for women
Without equal inclusion of women in business, education, health, and politics, we will not be able to solve the world’s most pressing problems and achieve a prosperous, vibrant future.
Acknowledge your worth and show appreciation to your colleagues and family
Sometimes, simple words of encouragement and love can go a long way in lifting someone up and inspiring them to keep going. Whether it is your mother, grandmother, sister, daughter, girlfriend, or friend – send a text, call, or Facetime an important woman in your life to let them know you are grateful for them because small acts of kindness go a long way.