It’s International Women’s Day. In an industry with its fair share of women, let’s celebrate our accomplishments, see where we’ve come from and think about where we are going. March 8 is celebrated globally and while the purpose of that celebration is different from country to country, it is more than just a day of recognition. In some countries, today will be celebrated with protests, while in others a celebration will ensue. It is an important day for so many around the world.
The first National Woman’s Day was observed in the United States on 28 February in 1909. The Socialist Party of America designated this day in honor of the 1908 garment workers’ strike in New York, where women protested against working conditions.
In 1911 International Women’s Day was marked for the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, where more than one million women and men attended rallies. In addition to the right to vote and to hold public office, they demanded women’s rights to work, to vocational training and to an end to discrimination on the job.
In 1913 Russia observed International Women’s Day for the first time. Which was the impetus for boldness. In 1917, Russian women honored the day by striking for “bread and peace” to protest World War I and fight for gender parity. The country’s leader at the time was Czar Nicholas II. He was not supportive of these efforts by women and instructed Russian General Khabalov to shoot any women who refused to stand down. However, the women were would not back down. They were entrenched in their mission and would not be intimidated. They continued their protests which resulted in the Czar Nicky (Nicholas) to “leave office” a few days later. While the provisional government was in power the women in Russia were granted the right to vote.
In 1975 when the United Nations (UN) officially recognized March 8th as International Women’s Day. Since that day, the UN has become the primary sponsor of this day and has helped facilitate more and more countries to celebrate, recognize and promote this day to recognize “acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.” In a number of countries it is an official holiday, while others combine International Women’s Day with Mother’s Day.
The Charter of the United Nations was signed in 1945 and was the first international agreement to publicly recognize the concept of equality between women and men. As a result of that agreement, the UN has assisted in advancing internationally-agreed upon strategies to further the status of women globally.
Each year the United Nations chooses an official theme and this traditional began in 1996 with the theme, “Celebrating the Past, Planning for the Future”. This year, 2019’s theme is “Better the balance, better the world” or #BalanceforBetter. The theme’s tenet is that balance is not just a women’s issue. The theme strives to promote and bring scrutiny to gender-balanced boardrooms, a gender-balanced governments, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, more gender-balance in wealth, gender-balanced sports coverage and so on. Some may take issue, but regardless, that is what the 2019 theme represents.
We can all pay tribute to many fine women that have influenced us in our careers. At P&O we celebrate ALL of our colleagues, but today on March 8th, International Women’s Day 2019, we give a special shout out to the Women of P&O … of which there are many. Too many to list but too important not to acknowledge. We also want to pay it forward and inspire young people, many of them young women. So this year we are proud to promote school readiness for young students that do not have the access to books at home by providing Literacy Kits. We hope to inspire new heroes all year long through the power of storytelling.
We encourage everyone to take a moment to recognize the many achievements that women have made and will continue to make to advance society. While things won’t change overnight, and there is work to be done, around the world positive strides are being made and women’s equality continues to advance. In the end, we all benefit. #IWD2019
And just for the record, some women like whiskey too.