This year's theme for International Women's Day is #BalanceForBetter and why society should strive for gender balance.
Four women from around PDS have written about what this means for them and how they're celebrating the day.
Jenny Radcliffe, Senior Change and Communications Manager
"I celebrated earlier this week by going to see "On The Basis of Sex", the brilliant new film about the life and work of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Ruth fought against gender-based discrimination and has used her position as US Supreme Court Justice to change the course of history. It was a timely reminder that women’s rights didn’t just happen, they were earned by generations of women who refused to be defined by their gender.
It’s hugely important to me that we have an international day which celebrates all women and that we strive for a gender-balanced world. Of course, I’d love to live in a world where this isn’t needed but we’re not there yet! Having at least one day a year which focuses our attention on raising awareness of inequality and discrimination, while celebrating women’s achievements, means we can continue to inspire future generations of women to change the world.
To quote Gloria Steinem:
The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.
I would tell my younger self to stop apologising for who I am and “find out who you are and do it on purpose” (thanks Dolly!). Recognise that ‘imposter syndrome’ is a real thing and it can be overcome. And actively learn about the women who changed the world and are still doing so.
I look up to women like Rosa Parks, who was instrumental in initiating the civil rights movement in the US; Marsha P Johnson, a transgender pioneer and activist; Frida Kahlo, who used her art to express taboo subjects surrounding women; and newer voices like Jameela Jamil who speak out about unhealthy body ideals.
And on a more personal note, I’ve got to include my mum. She had to move to a new country, completely on her own, at the age of 16. I can’t even begin to imagine how hard that was and how resilient she had to be. She went on to create a great life for herself and her family, and she continues to be the single biggest influence in my life."
Kat Cimetta, Social Media Editor
"I’m going to watch "The Kindergarten Teacher", a film directed by an award winning woman director with a leading female role, with my colleague Louise. I don’t think there are enough mainstream female-led films made by women or starring them that present us in positive and strong everyday roles.
Growing up, I had two older brothers who forced me to watch a lot of late 80s and early 90s sci-fi and my favourites were the iconic films that had strong female leads - Terminator and Alien. I used to pretend to do pull-ups on my bed because I wanted to be strong like them, but even they were presented as extreme versions of themselves.
I’ll also be attending a comedy night with an exclusive lineup of female comedians. I love to laugh and spending time with women where we laugh and unwind is just as important as time spent on work and more serious matters. Balance for better, right?
There's something beautiful in how a group comes together to drive change and to be heard. I grew up in a single parent family and because of the hard work my family put in I’m now free to build a career, live independently, and choose my own path in life. I’m in the first generation of women to do this in my family and I don’t want to live in a world where my children look at their idols on a TV screen. I want them to see strong women and people supporting issues affecting women at work, in books, on TV, on the streets, and at home.
I'd tell my younger self to learn to love your body and mind as one and embrace your differences. You will get over the obstacles you face now but you have to work at it. You are smart, brave, and deserve everything that a man does too and if anyone tells you otherwise, they're wrong.
Over the last few years I’ve started to look up to a lot of the women in my family. I’d feel bad singling them out but for years I looked elsewhere for motivation and inspiration without realising I had it at home. On International Women’s Day, I’ll be celebrating both of my parents and all of my siblings for helping me become the woman I am today and will be tomorrow."
Louise Duffy, Senior Content Designer
"As Kat mentioned above, we're going to see "The Kindergarten Teacher", a film directed by a woman with a female lead. Maggie Gyllenhaal is the lead and she's one of my favourite actresses as she often plays women who are unapologetic and strong. The event is part of the Bechdel Test Fest which is showing films that pass the Bechdel test.
I think it's so important to have a gender balance and representation of different types of people. Things like the Bechdel test and the #OscarsSoWhite campaign are great at identifying how much work still needs to be done in areas like film. Films (and books) are really universal so I think it's essential that people from all backgrounds see themselves represented. For me, it's not just about gender balance.
My new year's resolution was to read a book a week (so far, I'm nailing it) and I try to read 50:50 male and female authors, 50:50 fiction and non-fiction, while reading more books by people of colour too. It's made such a difference to read about a wide range of perspectives.
There's tons of women I look up to and too many to mention here but I often think that hearing stories about women's lives is really enlightening. Parliament's great for putting on talks from women and a couple of notable ones I went to were from the first female Black Rod and Baroness Corston. Both have been pioneers in their fields but are really humble about it.
I also recently read Harriet Harman's book and it was great to read about the changes she's helped create in Parliament to make it a more inclusive environment for women and parents."
Laboni Paul, Performance Analyst
"I'll be going to see my mum after work, to spend some one-to-one time with her. We're in the early stages of planning a prospective food business together as my mum has been thinking about entrepreneurship for a long time. Us working together is empowering and a chance to prove our doubters wrong.
International Women's Day to me is about women, all over the world, recognising their value and their potential. I'm South Asian by heritage and I feel especially touched that women from my background, who have, for a long time, felt unable to see their worth in the workplace are taking steps to see their own potential.
In my area of work in PDS, diversity is key to producing good design. I'm an analyst and a large part of my job involves thinking outside the box and producing theories of user behaviour. If we were all the same, the breadth of our ideas would be suppressed. The more inclusive we are with our staff, the more insights we're going to uncover. This is just one result of gender balance, and this is just in the workplace.
I would tell my younger self to be aware of gender stereotyping and narrow-minded expectations in my environment. I would also warn myself that having thoughts that are deemed to be 'feminine' or 'a woman's answer' are not to be ashamed of as they're important and powerful.
I look up to my peers, at home and in the workplace. Many of them are making their mark in what is often still considered a man's world: the military, government, economics, technology, finance, and surgery. They are incredibly ambitious and unapologetic females that inspire me to further my own reach."
Read more posts about women in digital.