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Is IWD at Risk of Being Merely Symbolic?

Tomorrow is International Women’s Day (IWD).

IWD is more than a moment of celebration; it is an opportunity to acknowledge and champion the significant strides women have made in the business world. However, amidst the applause, a critical question lingers:

Is IWD at risk of becoming merely symbolic—a token gesture rather than a catalyst for genuine, ongoing change?

As we organise events, seminars, and award ceremonies to honour women’s achievements on this special day, it’s crucial to ponder what comes next.

The spirit of IWD should not be confined to a single day. If we genuinely aspire to achieve gender parity, the principles and values celebrated on IWD must be integrated into our daily practices and corporate cultures.

This year’s theme, “Inspire Inclusion,” serves as a compelling call to action. It urges us to cultivate environments where everyone feels valued and a sense of belonging.

Yet, to bring this vision to life, a significant paradigm shift is necessary. Traditional work models often do not accommodate the diverse needs and strengths of the workforce, particularly those of women. By fostering flexibility, we can enable all individuals to excel—on their terms.

Statistics highlight the urgency of this transformation. According to UN Women’s most recent report, at the current rate of progress, it will take 286 years for the world to achieve gender equality. Per the World Economic Forum, it will take another 131 years to close the global gender gap.

These statistics are not just numbers; they are a wake-up call. They remind us that inclusion and diversity are not merely moral imperatives but critical drivers of business success and innovation.

As the trailblazer Ruth Bader Ginsburg once said, “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.”

Inclusion means recognising and valuing each person’s unique contributions. When individuals feel they belong, their engagement and productivity surge, transforming workplaces and, by extension, societies. This sense of belonging is transformative; it empowers individuals to not only contribute but to feel proud of their involvement and identity.

While IWD offers a moment to reflect on the progress made, it should also serve as a springboard for year-round action towards gender parity.

By embracing flexibility, championing inclusion, and valuing diversity every day, we can accelerate the journey towards equality. Let IWD be more than a date on the calendar; let it be a daily commitment to building a world where gender parity is not an aspiration but a reality.