Did you know that the first 'day' acknowledging women was way back on 28 February 1909 in New York City? It spun out of the socialist and union movements and was called International Working Women's Day. It took off and in the following years spread into other countries, including into Russia in 1913.
More findings from my 'intense research' on Wikipedia: throughout the years, the purpose of the day evolved from observation of industrial action to equal rights, to political deposition, to calling for world peace (and the end of WWI). For some time, the importance of the day faded in western countries, however, it was maintained in the Soviet Union.
In its contemporary construction, International Women's Day was re-established by the UN in 1977 and 8 March was officially set aside as a day to recognise women's rights and world peace. Each year also has a focusing theme. 2016's theme is:
Planet 50:50 by 2030: Step it up for Gender Equality
Dimi invited me to join her at this year's Business Chick's event, and the speaker was 2016 Australian of the Year, David Morrison. The former head of the Australian Army spoke powerfully about his epiphany, which followed some direct advice from Australia's former Sex Discrimination Commissioner Liz Broderick. His epiphany was the realisation of the impact culture has on inclusion and exclusion; and his responsibility as it's leader to make the Australian Army's culture more inclusive, less exclusive.
I've held management positions, lead change programs, completed leadership and culture subjects in my MBA. Intellectually, I know that leaders set the culture. But something new clicked for me when David Morrison finished sharing his story and asked us to consider our personal legacy to support the building of inclusiveness. CLAAANNNGGG! I'm no Liz Broderick but as an individual, how do I constructively activate for equality and contribute to the success of '50:50 by 2030'! Whilst I'm exploring my thinking, I'd be interested to hear what you think.
In the meantime, David Morrison assured us that following his award as Australian of the Year, he will continue to use his award as a platform to address issues of equality for all Australians. I look forward to watching his sphere of influence grow in 2016.
Tweets posted by me during the event.