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International Women's Day

International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is an annual celebration of the social, cultural, economic and political achievements of women.

On 8 March each year, people come together across the globe to rally for women’s equality through widespread activities. 

Why is this day important?

Although the world has made significant progress, no country has yet achieved gender equality. 

According to the United Nations, legal restrictions have kept 2.7 billion women from accessing the same choice of jobs as men. As of 2019, less than 25% of parliamentarians were women. Additionally, one in three women experience gender-based violence. 

This day gives us the opportunity to reflect on the progress made, raise awareness of women’s equality and celebrate acts of courageous women who’ve made an imprint on our history and communities.

Clearly, there is much more to be done in the fight for gender equality, so we want to strive to  make a positive difference for women. 

Themes

This year’s official theme, #ChooseToChallenge, encourages people to speak out against gender bias and inequality. From challenge comes change, so by embodying this theme, we can help create an inclusive world.

The United Nations has also announced the theme ‘Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a Covid-19 World. The current pandemic has demonstrated how effectively women leaders and women’s organisations have been leading the Covid-19 response through their skills, knowledge and networks. This theme focuses on the recent acceptance that women bring different experiences, perspectives and skills to the table.

How are we celebrating International Women’s Day?

At Leeds Sixth Form College, we will be holding an International Women’s Day challenge and activities through our group tutorials.

Women in leadership

We spoke to Rachael Booth, Principal at Leeds Sixth Form College, to find out her thoughts on International Women’s Day.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

“It reminds me of how far we have come as women, but also how far we still have to go. A time for reflection and action!”

What does the 2021 theme #ChooseToChallenge mean for you in your work life?

“Inclusivity – empowering us all to speak up about gender bias and challenge it.”

Why did you choose the career that you’re in?

“I first trained as a museum curator but found that whilst working in the museum, my favourite role was getting dressed up as a Victorian teacher with my school visit groups and helping them learn about the past.

I had been advised at school by a careers advisor to go into teaching but after studying for so long at university, I wanted to leave the education environment and try something else. However, I later realised it was something I enjoyed doing and felt passionate about.”

Why did you decide to work within the education sector?

“Having decided I wanted to teach, I then had to decide which age group I wanted to work with. I realised I wanted to work with secondary age pupils and above, so then went on to specialise in Key Stage 5 as I preferred studying at a higher level.”

What does Leeds Sixth Form College do to overcome gender stereotypes?

“Leeds Sixth Form College’s culture and vision includes a strong emphasis on inclusivity and creating opportunities for everyone, enabling staff and students to realise their full potential. 

Women are also well represented in the leadership and senior leadership team, acting as role models for both staff and students. Stereotypes are challenged on a daily basis by teachers, tutors and support staff.”

In your opinion, why is it important that more women take up leadership roles?

“When I first started out in education 24 years ago, my leadership team were all male and I never for one moment thought when I first started out that I would be part of a team like that.

It is important that women lead, so that they can empower future generations of leaders. If I can do that for other women, then that to me would be so rewarding.”

What more do you think can be done to encourage more women into leadership roles?

“Tackling the media stereotyping of women is really important. I am increasingly concerned about the way in which women and girls are portrayed as the main childcare providers or are objectified, which is having a negative impact on mental health of women and their sense of wellbeing.

I would like to see a greater focus on women as strong leaders, rather than constantly reinforcing female stereotypes.”

On International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?

“Think big, go high!”

Take a look at the International Women’s Day resources here.