This year, International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month – two events that commemorate the contributions of women every March – offer organizations another platform to engage employees and managers in the global conversation on sexual harassment and the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.
Every March 8, International Women’s Day (IWD) celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women everywhere. The organizers say IWD was by started by the Suffragettes in the early 1900s, and the first official celebration took place in 1911. IWD is not specific to any country, organization or group, and “belongs to all communities everywhere.”
The 2018 theme is #PressforProgress, a call for organizations to take action on gender parity and create more inclusive gender-equal workplaces. Four ways to create a #PressForProgress mindset are to:
- Challenge stereotypes and biases – such as challenging statements that limit women and removing barriers to women’s progress
- Forge positive visibility of women – such as extending opportunities to women first and selecting women as spokespeople and leaders
- Influence others’ beliefs and actions – such as calling out inappropriate behavior and actively contributing to changing the status quo
- Celebrate women’s achievements – such as ensuring credit is given to women’s contributions and valuing women’s individual and collective successes
Nevertheless, She Persisted
The 2018 theme of Women’s History Month is “Nevertheless, She Persisted: Honoring Women Who Fight All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.” Among the 15 women being honored this year by the National Women’s History Project are the late Geraldine Ferraro, who in 1984 became the first woman vice presidential running mate of a major party; Margaret Dunkle, former chair of the Maryland Calvert County Commission for Women and champion of Title IX; and Marty Langelan, a leader in the global effort to end harassment and gender-based violence.
The origins of National Women’s History Month go back to March 8, 1857, when women factory workers from New York City protested against working conditions. The first Women’s Day celebration was also in NYC in 1909, but it took until 1981 for Congress to establish National Women’s History Week on the second week of March. In 1987, Congress expanded the week to a month and, every year since, Congress has passed a resolution for Women’s History Month to recognize and celebrate the contributions and achievements of women in American history.
Every March, International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month provide a platform for organizations to highlight the achievements of women employees, and address gender parity and equality. In light of the ongoing sexual harassment scandals and #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, this month is also the perfect time to start conversations in your workplace about fostering a positive, harassment-free culture that treats women (and all individuals) with respect.
For more information, view our course on Preventing Discrimination and Harassment