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09 March 2020

International Women’s Day 2020

What is International Women’s Day?

International Women’s Day is celebrated annually on 8 March and is dedicated to honouring the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women throughout history and all across the globe. It is typically a day for women from all different backgrounds and cultures to action gender parity – raising awareness against bias and taking action for equality. The values of International Women’s Day are justice, dignity, hope, equality, collaboration, tenacity, appreciation, respect, empathy, and forgiveness.

How did it start?

International Women’s Day has its origins traced back to 1908, when around 15,000 women marched through New York City. A year later the first National Women’s Day was observed in the US on 28 February in accordance with a declaration by the Socialist Party of America. In 1913, it was decided to transfer International Women’s Day to March 8, and It has been celebrated on this day ever since.

How is International Women’s Day celebrated across the world?

Countries celebrate International Women’s Day in different ways. It is an official holiday in a number of countries including Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burking Faso, Cambodia, China, Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea Kazakhstan, Laos, Madagascar, Moldova, Mongolia, Nepal, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia.

What is this year’s theme and what is it about?

The theme for International Women’s Day 2020 is Each for Equal; an equal world is an enabled world. The theme recognises all of the actions we can take as individuals to challenge stereotypes, fight prejudice and celebrate women’s achievements and is drawn on the notion of ‘Collective Individualism’. This means we are all parts of a whole where our individual actions, conversations, behaviour and mind-sets can have an impact on our larger society; collectively, we can each help to create a gender equal world.

Why should the legal profession celebrate International Women’s Day?

Women should be empowered to break that glass ceiling

According to the Law Society, women make up just over half of practising solicitors, but only 27% of private practice partners are female. More needs to be done to promote and retain women to reverse the trend of women leaving practice after having children.

Diversity creates better business

Diversity breeds creativity and innovation, which leads to organisations thriving. It is well established that diverse organisations perform stronger financially than non-diverse organisations, and several research studies have shown that female-led companies outperform those led by men. For example, Credit Suisse published a research report in 2016 which showed that companies with more female executives in decision making positions generated stronger market returns and superior profits.

To put a stop to sexual harassment and domestic violence

Studies have found that more than half of women aged 16-24 have suffered sexual harassment in the workplace. Setting aside the implications of harassment for women themselves, there is a strong business case for eliminating this behaviour. Even low-level harassment affects the bottom line, through absenteeism, increased staff turnover and lower job performance and productivity, settlement costs, reputational damage and rising insurance premiums.

Inspiration is a powerful force

International Women’s Day is an opportunity to inspire and be inspired. Women in the profession can be leaders by taking bold, pragmatic action to accelerate gender equality. One example to follow is Baroness Hale, deputy president of the Supreme Court. Baroness Hale became the first woman to be appointed to the Law Commission in 1984, coming first in her year in the bar finals in 1969. A pioneer of family and social law, she persevered to shape the law in favor of equality.

For more information on International Women’s Day please visit www.internationalwomensday.com.

Andrew Smith, Managing Partner, comments:

‘On 8 March each year, the world celebrates International Women’s Day and reflects on how far we as a society have come in recognition of women’s rights. We remember those women who have made a real change to their communities and countries and those who have fought and made sacrifices in their push for gender equality. However, we also remember that gender inequality still exists and that women all over the world are still discriminated against in many aspects of their lives.

It is not just for women to fight for gender equality but for men to also join with them and ensure that we are helping to build a world which not only promotes but also takes action to make sure women are treated fairly and equally. BDB Pitmans is proud to support IWD and in particular the #EachForEqual initiative.’

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