With Spring just around the corner (here’s me being wildly optimistic about the British weather…), my thoughts turned to what exciting things will be happening in our industry and others where women are excelling and moving up in their roles, careers and life aspirations. Will you be celebrating those special friends in your life who go out of their way to help others succeed? What about those colleagues who quietly keep their head down at work but do an amazing job and never draw attention to themselves? Or perhaps you yourself have excelled in something over the past year. We should take pride in celebrating the achievements of our fellow female friends.
How much do you know about International Women’s Day? A “National Women’s Day” was first held in New York in 1909, organized by the Socialist Party of America. Similar meetings developed elsewhere and in March 1911, IWD was marked for the first time by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. This was of course around the same time that momentum was rapidly building to demand that women were given the right to vote. On March 8, 1914, Sylvia Pankhurst was arrested on her way to speak in Trafalgar Square and the rest, as they say, is history. Women were given the right to vote a few years later because of the risks those ladies took, and this laid the foundations for future generations to strive for gender equality.
These days, IWD is celebrated more and more to encourage not only gender equality but also to help build a more balanced world. Why is it that even today – although things are definitely improving – girls are often still taught to avoid risk, play it safe and study hard at school? Boys, on the other hand, are often encouraged to take risks, and go for those opportunities that may seem out of reach. By the time they reach adulthood, boys are already comfortable taking risks to go for those things they want, like asking for that pay rise and being confident about it. Girls often outperform boys at school, and yet how they approach challenges is quite different. Boys grow into men who will have no qualms about applying for a job where they only meet half the specified criteria. Whereas women will most often only apply for a role where they meet 100% of the criteria. Does this attitude apply all the way up to the C-suite in corporations, and partly explain why there are so few women at these top levels? Of course it does. And to change things, it has to start in childhood. Bringing up our girls to be courageous and go for their ambitions, just as much as boys, instead of stepping aside and missing out on opportunities that could easily be theirs.
To tie this celebration of women’s achievements in with our own organization, I must offer big congratulations to Loy Searle, who accepted the post of President of Women in Localization this month. Every organization needs a strong leader, and we are blessed with a whole team of them! Presidents of W.L. take their post for a one-year term, giving others the chance to take their advice and guidance and to provide fresh insight on a range of topics. The organization continues to mentor new leaders who have the potential to ensure that we continue to grow and attract more talented individuals. These steps must be taken forward for women to not only have mentors in the business world (that were so freely available to men historically) and to become mentors themselves. With leadership like this we can look forward to healthy growth of the organization in 2019.
Anna Schlegel summed up the attitude (and outstanding results!) of a team of hard-working W.L. members over the last 12 months – something more to celebrate in combination with International Women’s Day. In 2018 alone, our members organized and held 64 innovation sessions. Wow! Talk about inspiring others to get involved, join in and move on up. What was impressive was not so much how these ladies plan and fit events like these into their already hectic diaries, but the topics that were covered highlighted the many sides of the localization industry, such as technology, mentoring and engineering. These subjects in particular were all previously the domain of the male half of the population, but look now at how many young girls are learning to code and choosing to take up STEM subjects.
IWD is not only about celebrating the women of the past, whose courage and risk taking led us to attaining the vote; or the women of today who are confidently pushing up through that glass ceiling. But most importantly, it is about encouraging those girls who will be tomorrow’s leaders to take those risks and have the ambition to succeed and to achieve. Eventually, gender equality and global acceptance across diversity will make for a much better world for us all.
The International Women’s Day 2019 campaign theme is #BalanceforBetterand there are many ways to celebrate this special date to mark women’s achievements over the past 100 years right up to the present day. You can find out more about the events taking place and plan your own events, by visiting the dedicated site: https://www.internationalwomensday.com/IWD2019