Celebrating #IWD2016

Celebrating #IWD2016

International Women’s Day is a global day which celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity and this year’s theme – #PledgeforParity – focuses on what can be done to increase and improve the pace of change. As the IWD site reminds us, we do indeed have much to celebrate today. But progress towards gender parity has slowed in many places and UN Women are using IWD to launch their Planet 50/50 by 2030 campaign.

Here in the UK, these graphics from the Fawcett Society serve as a timely reminder of how long, based on the current rate of progress, it will take to close the gender pay gap, improve women’s access to greater pension parity at retirement and have increased participation in certain job roles.

And, instead of speeding up progress, we actually seem to be slowing down:

“The World Economic Forum predicted in 2014 that it would take until 2095 to achieve global gender parity. Then one year later in 2015, they estimated that a slowdown in the already glacial pace of progress meant the gender gap wouldn’t close entirely until 2133. So how do we want to celebrate International Women’s Day 2016? We say by Pledging For Parity! Everyone – men and women – can pledge to take a concrete step to help achieve gender parity more quickly – whether to help women and girls achieve their ambitions, call for gender-balanced leadership, respect and value difference, develop more inclusive and flexible cultures or root out workplace bias. Each of us can be a leader within our own spheres of influence and commit to take pragmatic action to accelerate gender parity.”

(Source: IWD website)

So here are some resources that we can all use to make our own #PledgeforParity, as we all have a part to play when it comes to increasing the pace of change and progressing towards a more gender balanced world by 2030.

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I wrote last week about observing that L’Occitane are supporting women workers in Burkina Faso by donating the proceeds from one of their products to local NGOs. Perhaps, along with the commercial associations which are now part and parcel of supporting causes like breast cancer awareness, we are starting to see more companies supporting women through this type of model? At the weekend, I saw an editorial reference in my Sunday paper to an online dress boutique which is supporting domestic violence charity Refuge:

“Online frock mecca Little Black Dress has joined forces with charity Refuge, which helps women all over the country deal with domestic abuse. LBD has a range of gorgeous frocks and for every sale they will donate £1 to Refuge.”

The dresses in question seem to sell for around £100+ each, so to my mind, donating a quid isn’t overwhelmingly generous. However, perhaps they are a really high volume operation and sell hundreds of thousands of frocks each year, in which case, great; this £1-per-dress donation could make a real difference to the charity’s bottom line. Let’s hope so.

I also spotted, whilst on a recent trip to Sainsbury’s, that Taylors of Harrogate are doing their bit to support female coffee co-operative workers in Peru. They have launched a new ground coffee called Esperanza (after a female Peruvian coffee expert and the central Peruvian co-operative’s leader) and are working with a local NGO, Twin Trading. Taylor’s support will go:

“… towards interest-free microloans for women’s healthcare – hiring a doctor to visit and perform expensive, comprehensive procedures like haemoglobin checks, which can help to identify a range of conditions. The hope is that this will help to attract more women to join the committee and to become more active, in turn making it even stronger.

This premium is additional to the Fairtrade premium, which CAC Pangoa receives for all its Fairtrade coffee and cocoa since it became certified in 1999, and has helped to fund a raft of projects improving community healthcare, education and coffee tree replanting. Our Esperanza coffee is not going to fix the worldwide gender gap – but we hope it will be one more string to the bow of an inspiring coffee cooperative, and an equally inspiring woman who is leading the way for positive change.”

IWD 2016_Taylors Coffee picWhat a great idea. I bought two bags and I hope you’ll also check it out if you happen to see the coffee wherever you do your grocery shopping.

Happy International Women’s Day!

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