Corporate or Home Leaders, women deserve respect, recognition

A tribute to them on International Women’s Day today

Indian women hold the high ranks of Lieutenant General, Air Marshal and Surgeon Vice-Admiral in the Indian Army, Air Force and Navy. This photo of women Captains and Lieutenant Colonels was taken (by Pallav Paliwal) in South Block, Delhi to commemorate International Women’s Day on March 8, 2022

Venkat Raman
Auckland, March 8, 2022

The World is marking ‘International Womens’ Day today (March 8, 2022) with every President, Prime Minister and Head of State issuing messages and notes of congratulations, pledging their increased support and action plan to enhance the welfare of women.

International Women’s Day (IWD), a global organisation based in the USA with representative organisations and offices throughout the world, commemorates this day to celebrate the cultural, political, and socioeconomic achievements of women. It is also the focal point in the Women’s Rights Movement, bringing attention to issues that challenge them.

Indian Women of valour

As well entrepreneurs and corporate chiefs featured in Millionaires’ List, women in India have demonstrated their high level of competence and courage as airline pilots, officers in the Indian Defence Force and other pursuits which are traditionally considered as men’s domain.

Indian history is replete with the valour of women as empresses, charioteers, and fighters in major battles. Women were also a part of India’s Freedom Movement.

Symbol of solidarity IMD 2022: Photo from IMD Website

The origin of International Women’s Day

IWD owes its origin to New Zealand which led the world with universal suffrage including the right to women to vote. This was on September 19, 1893, with the passage of the Electoral Act.

The origin of International Women’s Day

The Universal Female Suffrage Movement is the predecessor to International Women’s Day.

It originated in North America and Europe in the early 20th Century, with the earliest version purported to be a ‘Women’s Day,’ organised by the Socialist Party of America held in New York City on February 28, 1909.

This event inspired German delegates at the International Socialist Women’s Conference held in 1910 to organise an annual ‘Special Women’s Day.’

The following year witnessed meetings and demonstrations to mark the IWD throughout Europe and Russia. After Soviet Russia granted suffrage to its women in 1917 (beginning of the February Revolution), IWD was declared as a National Holiday on March 8 and was subsequently celebrated by the Socialist Movements and Communist countries.

IWD became a mainstream global holiday following its adoption by the United Nations General Assembly in 1977.

Air India operated the world’s longest All-Women flight on March 8, 2016 and set a global record. The flight from Delhi to San Francisco (Conde Nast Traveler Photo)

Some tough questions

But have women been really emancipated? Do they enjoy equal opportunity with equal pay? Have men stopped discriminating against them at work, in professions and social and community organisations? Has Family Harm, otherwise known as Family Violence, reduced in our communities, if not eliminated completely? Do we accord respect and recognition to women as mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, employees, colleagues, fellow directors?

Unfortunately, the answer to each of the above questions is ‘No.’

Women continue to suffer discrimination, continue to be ‘objects’ of neglect and misuse and victims of violence. However, each year on March 8, we pledge to correct the situation; until next year, when the process is repeated.

Notwithstanding discrimination and offences committed against them, organisations such as IWD remain optimistic. The IWD website considers March 8 as an important opportunity to reinforce commitment, and forge women’s equality while celebrating their achievements.

“Fighting the good fight continues all year and IWD sees the world step forward to support a campaign theme that unifies action in helping forge an inclusive world. Each year the conversation grows, activity escalates, action increases, inclusive mindsets prevail – and we get closer to an equal world. Thank you to everyone who shares the vision, cares about equality, and takes action to make the world a better place,” the website says.

Crossing arms, not swords

‘Break the Bias,’ is the slogan for this year’s IWD campaign, with arms crossed as the symbol of solidarity. Companies, employers, husbands, brothers and sons have joined the Campaign, admitting that they have not done enough.

IWD said that whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead. Knowing that bias exists is not enough, action is needed to level the playing field.

It asked people: “Are you in? Will you actively call out gender bias, discrimination and stereotyping each time you see it? Will you help break the bias?”

The international organisation has called for ‘A world that is diverse, equitable and inclusive, a world where difference is valued and celebrated and a world that is gender-free.’

The Campaign says, “Individually, we are all responsible for our own thoughts and actions- all day, every day. We can break the bias in our communities. We can break the bias in our workplaces. We can break the bias in our schools, colleges and universities. Together, we can all break the bias – on IWD and beyond.”

Climate Change and Women

Studies, Research Papers and discussions held at national and international conferences have found that gender, social equity and climate change are interlinked and that achievement of gender equality is a prelude to achieving all other objectives.

Women experience the greatest impacts of the climate crisis as it amplifies existing gender inequalities and puts women’s lives and livelihoods at risk. Across the world, women depend more on, yet have less access to, natural resources, and often bear a disproportionate responsibility for securing food, water, and fuel.

As women and girls bear the burden of climate impacts, they are also essential to leading and driving change in climate adaption, mitigation and solutions. Without the inclusion of half of the world’s population, it is unlikely that solutions for a sustainable planet and a gender-equal world tomorrow will be realised.

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