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Choose to challenge

So, here we are again on International Women’s Day (IWD) celebrating the achievements of women across the globe.

2020 saw women create positive headlines, as Kamala Harris became both the first female and first woman of colour to be elected Vice-President of the United States. New Zealand Premier Jacinda Arden led one of the most successful national responses to the Coronavirus pandemic. BioNTech co-founder Ozlem Tureci developed the world’s fastest vaccine against Coronavirus alongside her husband Ugur Salin.

But IWD doesn’t only celebrate achievements: it’s also there to shine a spotlight on the gender inequalities and biases that are still rife politically, economically and socially.

IWD doesn’t only celebrate achievements: it’s also there to shine a spotlight on the gender inequalities and biases that are still rife politically, economically and socially.

And let’s be honest, we need more than a day. We need a movement. A constant drumbeat. Accountability. Action. And we need it more now than ever. The Gender Social Norms Index found that nowhere in the world has gender equality. Despite decades of progress in closing the equality gap, almost 90% of men and women hold some sort of bias against women.

The report also concluded that half of the world’s men and women feel that men make better political leaders; and over 40% think men make better business executives and have more right to a job when positions are scarce. Data by UN Women suggests that the pandemic could put gender equality back by 25 years because unpaid care tasks have been falling mainly on women.

There’s a mountain still to climb to achieve gender equality. How do we close the gender pay gap? Encourage female leaders in business and politics? Eradicate gender-based violence against girls and women? Destroy systemic barriers, stereotypes and unconscious bias? Shatter glass ceilings? We can start by challenging them.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #ChooseToChallenge. We can set ourselves the challenge – as individuals, mothers, fathers, senior leaders and organisations – to ensure that we actively and consistently work towards gender equality.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #ChooseToChallenge. We can set ourselves the challenge – as individuals, mothers, fathers, senior leaders and organisations – to ensure that we actively and consistently work towards gender equality – not just on IWD but beyond.

We’re challenging you right now: take it upon yourself to celebrate women’s achievements at every opportunity. Call out gender inequality. Find out what your organisation is doing to promote women and close the gender pay gap. Understand what your community is doing to encourage young women into STEM and how you can help.

We may have a mountain to climb, but together we can challenge ourselves to drive change, one step at a time.

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