International Women’s Day and beyond

International Women’s Day 2023 was no ordinary day for me. I deliberately took the day off to use it as a professional development day. Paused from work, I took some time out to reflect on what IWD meant to me. The theme #EmbraceEquity invited a spirit of humility.

Last year, I was recognized as one of 25 Most Powerful Women in Atlantic Canada by the Atlantic Business Magazine. For a long time, I reflected on what this meant and decided to use my skills, knowledge, and wisdom to support, embrace, engage, and invite fairness for all in my daily experience.

Having this award and recognition meant that I now had an even greater responsibility to pass on my knowledge and experiences to the next person behind me. It means mentoring another person, taking time to show them the way, to create a space for them at the table and, if there is no space, my role is to add another chair and extend the table for others to join in regardless of their background, social location, language, or cultural identity.

Being an alumni propelled me to join the planning committee to help shape the day for the next 25 Most Powerful Women in Atlantic Canada. The day was powerful. I participated in the Fireside Chat discussing and answering questions about women entrepreneurs, exploring the barriers, and celebrating our successes.
The evening was extraordinary with 25 incredible, phenomenal women receiving their awards.

The keynote speaker was Gloria McCluskey, former Councillor of Dartmouth. Even at the grand age of 92, she captivated the audience, commanded the attention of the room with her message and culminated a standing ovation.
Councillor McCluskey’s message reminded us to demonstrate our powers as women by supporting each other: to be bold even though you might be the only female in the room.

She reminded us that there is still a long way to go for women to be recognized and paid a fair wage. According to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, achieving gender parity is still a long way off. The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index, which measures gender parity across economic, educational, health and political dimensions, identifies that at the current rate, it will take 132 years to reach full parity. Even though women hold significant qualifications, being promoted to middle level and senior executive leadership positions is still very low.

Various reports reflect on the under-skilling and systemic underutilization of women workforces which have led to considerable economic loss across the globe. Moody’s 2023 research highlighted that some $12 trillion in today’s revenue would be gained if women were paid and recognized for the value they bring to the global economy.

To make steps toward achieving our goals for gender parity, the following must be taken into consideration and government, businesses and communities must work together to bring about change:

  1. Recognize women for the value they bring to the workforce.
  2. Work together to achieve the UN Sustainable Goals.
  3. Make more concerted efforts to celebrate the achievements of women, not only on International Women’s Day but every day.
  4. Provide mentorship and appropriate funding for women to succeed economically.
  5. Increase investment in women’s financial education and business acumen.
  6. Provide opportunities for young women to access education without barriers
    It is recognized that change takes time and in this post-pandemic period women continue to be underpaid and underutilized for their value and worth, therefore it is important for all stakeholders to champion equity and parity within the workforce.

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