International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March has been marked by women’s groups around the world for over 100 years in honour of the day, in 1908, when 15,000 women marched through New York demanding better pay, shorter hours and voting rights.
International Women’s Day is a day that inspires women everywhere to achieve their full potential whilst celebrating major achievements in the struggle for equality, justice and peace. Recognised by the United Nations, some countries even have a national holiday on 8 March!
Significant progress and change has been achieved in society’s attitude to women’s equality, but despite offering women more choices than they may have had two or three decades ago, this special event is by no means obsolete.
Almost 100 years since winning the right to vote, British women too often still earn less than men in comparable jobs. They climb more slowly up the company ladder too, and usually not as high, and they’re less likely to consider self employment.
Indeed only 36.5 per cent of women felt they had the skills to start a business in 2009, compared with 52.5 per cent of men. Research in Scotland has also shown that men are 72 per cent more likely than women to be the owner or manager of an entrepreneurial business over three-and-a-half years old.
Although more than a million women are now self-employed and there has been a 30 per cent increase in the number of self-employed women since 2000, women are still facing barriers that can prevent them from achieving long-term success.
In 2004, Aurora was commissioned by the DTI’s Small Business Service to identify women’s needs when starting and growing a business. Those needs include knowledge about finance, and access to women-owned business networks and successful female business-owner role models.
Although the number of women-owned networks has been on the increase, there has been a knock-on effect of the recent economic situation. Many small businesses seem to need to be more competitive and innovative than ever. To succeed in this economy, it helps for women to have a strong mindset, lots of confidence and a vision to overcome additional barriers, such as lack of funds, visibility and time and, frequently, self-belief.
All these, combined with having too much competition or too much to juggle, can cause real stress, as can the guilt many women experience when they are not able to give the business or their family the quality time they feel they deserve.
International Women’s Day is the one day in the year where women can come together to celebrate their own personal and professional achievements as well as women’s general achievements in the last 100 years.
For many women, particularly the women who attend Success Network’s International Women’s Day event every year, it is also a good opportunity to inspire and support each other to aim higher, without crumbling under the pressure.
*Research and figures provided by Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2010, Labour Market Statistics, October 2011, UN and TUC websites as well as www.internationalwomensday.com
About the Authors:
Ute Wieczorek-King, business coach and founder/owner of Success Network – www.successnetwork.org.uk
Catherine Osborn, freelance writer – www.catherineosborn.com, author of https://successnetwork.wordpress.com/2011/02/02/the-offside-rule-and-why-international-womens-day-is-as-important-now-as-it-was-100-years-ago/