Today is International Women’s Day (IWD). To celebrate, we take a closer look at this year’s theme.
What is International Women’s Day (IWD)?
International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March 2023 is a global celebration of the achievements of women and a call to action for promoting women’s equality.
It was first celebrated in 1911 with demonstrations for women’s working rights. In 1975, it was celebrated by the United Nations, and in 1996 they began to mark it annually with a specific theme.
This year’s IWD theme is #EmbraceEquity.
What’s the difference between Equity and Equality?
While the words equity and equality share a common linguistic root, they have different meanings.
Equality means everyone is given the same resources and opportunities, while equity acknowledges the vastly different contexts from which different people originate, and gives the exact resources and opportunities each person needs to achieve the same successful outcome.
It’s the difference between giving everyone the same pair of shoes (equality), and giving everyone a pair of shoes that fits them individually and suits their mobility requirements (equity).
Real inclusion requires equitable action.
Why do we need to #EmbranceEquity?
The average gender pay gap in 2023 is 14.9%, meaning that the average woman in paid employment works for free for nearly two months of the year (54 days) compared to the average man in paid employment.
In the workplace – and elsewhere – women also face gender bias (both conscious and unconscious).
Moreover, women and girls experience violence and discrimination in every society in the world.
IWD is an opportunity to raise awareness of these challenging statistics, to put a spotlight on the amazing achievements of women and girls, and to campaign against structural problems like gender bias and the gender pay gap.
IWD celebrates the stories and experiences of women whose voices have historically been silenced and whose lives and achievements have been erased. IWD celebrates women of colour, trans women, lesbian women and bisexual women.
How can I #EmbraceEquity?
There’s no right or wrong way to mark IWD.
You could, for instance:
- call out gendered discrimination and stereotypes when you encounter them. You can seek to be inclusive and aim to be aware of your own biases, and those of others.
- fundraise for, or donate to, charities supporting vulnerable women and girls.
- take part in International Women’s Day in-person events taking place near you or join a virtual event.
- celebrate and/or connect with the women in your life.
- find ways to elevate women in your community or workplace
- start a conversation about gender issues
- find a way to raise awareness, share perspectives, or offer support to women.
- champion or support small businesses founded by women.
- read more books written by women, watch more films and TV shows made by and starring women, or seek out creative work by women.
What resources are there at Kent to support and champion women?
The Division of Computing, Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, the Division of Natural Sciences and the UKC Women’s Network are hosting a panel discussion on 8 March to celebrate IWD titled ‘Women in STEM: How far have we come? What obstacles still need to be overcome?’
The Women’s Network is for any student who identifies as a women, to discuss key ideas that affect their University and Kent Union experience.
The Women’s Staff Network meets termly to provide a forum for the discussion of gender equality issues within the wider University and promote good practice to facilitate action for change.
There are a number of societies that champion women’s achievements and provide support for women at Kent, such as the Women in Film Society, the Women in STEM society, and the UN Women UK Kent Society.
Comedy fans may be interested in the Funny Women Collection at The Special Collections and Archives in the Templeman Library.
You might be interested in the History of Art elective Stage 1 module Women Artists (HART3000) which explores women artists through the ages within a broadly feminist, intersectional thematic.
Business enthusiasts may be interested in Kent Business School’s MBA Women in Leadership Scholarship, which offers 25% off the tuition fee for the MBA.
Who is International Women’s Day for?
IWD is for everyone, not just for those identifying as women. Everyone can champion women’s rights and celebrate women’s achievements. Everyone can #EmbraceEquity.
Be a champion for women. Put gender equality at the heart of everything you do.