On International Women’s Day- Pledge for Parity

#Pledgeforparity. It’s the slogan for this year’s International Women’s Day celebrated across the globe, tomorrow 8 March.

This year the theme, pledge for parity, is inspired by the troubling estimate from the World Economic Forum that it will take until 2133 (having revised its 2095 figure from a year earlier) to achieve global gender parity.

If this estimate is correct it will take more than a century before the gender pay gap is closed. This is despite the fact that women contribute to and accomplish all sorts of global achievements from science to politics to global economic success; and yet the gap remains.

We can, and do all have a responsibility to close the gap. International Women’s Day is about just that-about challenging work place bias, ensuring the workplace is not a hostile environment for women but is somewhere they are able to flourish because there are modern inclusive and flexible workplace policies firmly and fully developed.

Action must start early, form school age- girls should feel encouraged to achieve. Their ambition’s should be set high and they should feel confident that they have the ability to meet their goals. In addition girls should be taught leadership skills, and particularly be encouraged to flourish in subjects such as science, maths and technology.

Global events are planned to mark International Women’s Day tomorrow in all sorts of cities. In Nigeria people will take to the streets of Lagos to demonstrate against gender based violence. In India female Sherpas will lead tours of their favourite parts of Mumbai and in London a ‘women of the World’ event is to be hosted. Meanwhile the not for profit organisation, Tech City, will host a celebration of women’s work in technology and the creative industries.

It’s great that London and other cities across the globe will mark International Women’s Day. But we must make sure that this day isn’t used to pay lip service to this incredibly important issue by big businesses, governments and others. If we are serious about closing the gender pay gap in less than 115 years then we must continue to fight for parity, and that starts in education, where we can change the mind sets of future generations of leaders- male and female.

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