For the past few years I have found myself in different parts of the world for International Women’s Day. From the hustle bustle of Kowloon in Hong Kong to the IT Hub of the world Bangalore India, I have witnessed women at the forefront of all that is good. As we celebrate another year of courage, strength and achievements of the women in our lives I am digging deep to find the true significance of the day to myself.
I think the day is so important for the obvious reasons but also much more. The day puts girls and women in the spotlight for the incredible achievements, courage, strength and inspiration they provide. I also think that the day is a momentum starter for a conversation that has a much bigger picture. The issue of focus this year is ‘gender parity’, which according to the World Economic Forum will take 117 years from now to be achieved. That’s right 117 years, blimey. That’s 117 years for the hardworking women going to work this morning in Sydney to have the same voice. That’s 117 years for the young girls who dream to be doctors, change-makers and nurses in Phnom Penh to have the same opportunities. It is also 117 years for the over 3 billion women in our world to be seen and treated as equal.
International Women’s Day is a platform to continue momentum for an issue that can’t keep slowing down. For too long we have started discussions of Gender Parity but the brakes are applied and momentum stops. This takes the polish off days like today that should otherwise be a catalyst for the acceleration of Gender Parity. The conversation needs to continue beyond this day, this week and even this month. Do we really want to keep returning to the status quo? A position where women are 117 years from being equal and where change is stagnant. One day a year simply isn’t enough.
The vision should be International Women’s Day to recognize the achievements of women and only that. Not the progress that needs to happen for equality to occur. Every day should be International Women’s Day. The conversation should be continued and accelerated every day. Women should be celebrated every day. They should be told and shown this every day. We can only do this by shifting mindsets, biases and the status quo. My pledge is to celebrate women and the gender movement every day of the year. I pledge to raise my voice to change the embedded values in society that continue to hold women back from achieving full potential. I pledge to take the incredible example of leadership and achievement of the women at my workplace, Ashoka India and use it to empower movements of progress. I pledge to use the great example of courage that I see in the 12 young women who are part of the IDEX Global Fellowship this year to continue creating communities that are relentless in progress. I also pledge to use the example of love of millions of motherly figures like my own to remind us that this affection and support is the most important thing for progress.