International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global event that celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The theme for 2021 is #ChooseToChallenge.
This global event encourages everyone to seek out and celebrate women's achievements. The IWD challenge theme asks us to think about how a challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change.
This made me think back over my career in the Civil Service, and the many great women I have been fortunate to work with along the way. More than 53% of the Civil Service are women. Almost all of my managers have been women and many have inspired, touched and influenced my career and I remain grateful to them all.
I was in my twenties when I moved from Cornwall to London and worked with some fantastic women. Along the way, I’ve had several ‘work mums’, wise women who really nurtured and supported me, when I lived many miles from home. They helped me feel stronger, more confident and happier. I’ve worked alongside women from different backgrounds, different cultures, races, faiths and all different ages. We have learnt from each other about our food, families, traditions, humour, experiences and our abilities.
Challenge to women
So, here is my challenge to women in the Civil Service. Think about some of the women you work with now, or maybe in the past. Perhaps they might even be someone you never worked with, but who you know would be an inspiring, uplifting colleague or manager. Who made you laugh, who helped you, inspired you or shaped and boosted your career? Then I want you to pick up the phone, drop them an email or even send them a card. Take a moment to take the time to say hi and tell them how you feel and the chances are, it will make their day too.
My challenge is for women to show their appreciation for other women. Now more than ever, it is important to connect and show people you care.
The Civil Service has some great policies to enable parents and those with other caring responsibilities to work flexibly. However, there is still work to be done to help strengthen the career paths of women and the numbers aspiring to reach the higher grades. Ok, the numbers are increasing, but it’s an inescapable fact that there are still more men than women in grade 6/7 and the Senior Civil Service. Workload, location and travel are all factors that can discourage and prevent women from reaching their potential.
Consider what your challenge might be for IWD and remember this isn’t just for women, men can take part too (also don’t forget it’s International Men’s Day in November).
So, my pledge this year is to reconnect, stay connected and make new connections.