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With International Women’s Day coming up soon, many of us look out for innovative women’s day programs in our workplaces, to mark the day in a creative, positive and thoughtful manner. Here are some useful ideas!
As the world marches towards a progressive, technologically advanced and socially diverse community, the time has come to do everything possible for greater women’s involvement and participation both at the workplace and in everyday life. March 8th, celebrated the world over as International Women’s Day, marks a critical point in the movement for women’s rights in this direction. By employing greater numbers of women in the workforce, organisations can help bridge the gender gap in society. The activities that an organisation performs on this day clearly show the focus that it gives to gender inclusion and women’s empowerment.
To celebrate this day, we usually attend cultural performances or send each other roses, or sweet texts and messages. All these things are spot on and they surely are one way of remembering this day. But how about we do something different this time and be a little unpredictable? Like Paula Abdul, the famous American singer once said, “When people expect me to go right, I’ll go left. I am unpredictable.” So, how does celebrating womanhood sound to you? Let’s add the right ingredients and spice up the flavour of this day.
This year’s UN theme for International Women’s Day is ‘Think equal, build smart, innovate for change’ which focuses on developing innovating ways for promoting a gender-balanced world and increasing women’s empowerment. There is a growing recognition around the world that we need to change stereotypes and remove gender bias in the workplace.
So, what activities can an organisation conduct in order to highlight this aspect while celebrating this year’s women’s day programs?
Women have moved to great leadership positions around the world. There are a number of instances where women have bravely faced the challenges of our society and raised their voices on domestic violence, gender diversity, girl power, self-esteem, and a lot of other issues that touch a nerve. Just listening to them creates a circle of positive energy all around us. Such inspiring talks and real-life stories provide lots of energy and motivation that remain with us long after the talks are over.
In order to highlight its commitment to women employees, the organisation can launch a programme for women’s empowerment under its corporate social responsibility wing. If there are such schemes already in place, they can be evaluated in terms of their outreach and impact on beneficiaries. Women have shown great entrepreneurial ability in our country and they often require some skill building and seed capital investment to launch a local business and re-enter the workforce. These ventures not only generate income for women but also empower their families and communities. Gender equality and women’s empowerment are key drivers of a nation’s social and economic growth, so including financial and social schemes as part of women’s day programs shows the organisation’s commitment towards growth and development.
Ever heard of the Marvellous Mrs. Maisel? The real, forceful comic in her enthrals the audience with her real-life story as a housewife. Imagine spending an evening with comedy show hosts regaling us with laughter over issues we face every day as part of our homemaker role, our breadwinner role or one of the hundreds of other roles we play every day in life. Yes, I know, the issues we face every day are not frivolous or to be laughed at but variety is the spice of life.
I still remember the email I sent to my colleague accidentally asking him what was he cooking for dinner as both he and my husband have the same first name! In another hilarious moment, soon after we were married I decided to cook for my husband his favourite non-vegetarian curry. On tasting it, I felt I had added a lot of salt in the dish and the naïve me thought that adding sugar to a salty dish will perfectly balance it out! You can imagine the look on his face when he swallowed that first bite and with clenched teeth muttered that it was delicious. So, as part of this year’s women’s day programs, let’s take a moment, relax and laugh at our follies – we are humans after all.
An important component of women’s day programs can be having a famous nutrition expert or caregiver come and talk about healthy and stress-free living. Women often feel that it is their duty to make sure that everything is done in a perfect manner at all times and there is no scope for any mistake. At home and workplace, they sometimes forget to prioritise and end up working 24/7. All this often creates stress and takes a toll on their physical and emotional health. On this day, we can have an interactive session with health experts and let women understand that health is wealth and they can make a choice to live healthy by eating nutritious food and taking out time to exercise and meditate.
I remember watching Erin Brockovich and feeling inspired by the story of perseverance and struggle shown by the movie’s woman protagonist. It is said that movies are a mirror of what is happening in society and lately, a lot of movies have been made with strong women roles. All the employees can get together and watch such a show together which can help everyone better appreciate the challenges being faced by women today. An informal book discussion can also be held where men and women can sit together in groups and discuss various books on the lives of women who have shaped history. As part of my daughter’s book club discussion, I came across a book that she read on Malala Yousufzai. Reading that book gave me the goosebumps and I saluted the spirit of this girl who, in the face of extreme hardships, fought for education and the rights of girls. Such books are an inspiration and transport you to a world of hope, positivity, and strength.
A key highlight of women’s day programs could be a motivational talk organised by the company’s women employees who have been influential in contributing to the organisation’s growth and reach. There can be presentations that showcase the company’s achievements in bridging the gender gap at the workplace. This can also be an occasion to highlight the initiatives that the organisation has taken to increase women’s involvement in the workforce. Other keynote speakers from the industry can be invited to share their views on the current statistics in gender diversity. On this day, the company’s website can run stories of their women leaders or trailblazers. Such inspirational stories of real-life women, whom employees meet and know about, create a very strong impression on the minds of everyone about how change can actually happen in the world.
Women’s day programs should not be about women advocating change and men being mute spectators. Organise an interactive activity where men can come up on the stage and share one inspirational story about a woman in their lives or express their views on what the day means to them. This forum can also be used to highlight the viewpoints expressed by different world leaders on International Women’s Day. On March 8, 2018, a leading daily newspaper ran one such interesting coverage where it showed the British Foreign Secretary sporting a special T-shirt with a message supporting women on this day. Similar supportive comments and statements by the Russian President, the Canadian Prime Minister, the French President, and other world leaders also made the news. Tweets and social media posts by world leaders on International Women’s Day show to the general public that women’s equality, gender balance, and women’s rights are world issues. These are no more only women’s issues, but the world as a whole is moving towards these objectives of a fair and balanced life on this planet.
A competitive sport like a cricket match or football can be organised for women and men can be referees or umpires. I for one would never like to miss this match where on-field decisions may or may not be accepted without explanations or discussions. No matter which side wins, there will never be a dull moment in a match of women vs women. We can organise a relay race for the menfolk where they have to reach the finish line only after completing multiple hurdles along the way. These hurdles could be in the form of doing dishes, folding clothes, soothing a crying baby, checking kids’ homework, sending in official reports, and so on. Variations could be made to the format of the game but needless to say, the results will be hilarious and a serious message about women’s traditional roles will be conveyed in a lighthearted manner.
There are various ways in which this memorable day can be celebrated. The overall objective is to focus on gender equality and cherish the progress that women have made towards the goal, as well as acknowledge the road that lies ahead.
Image courtesy www.vecteezy.com
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I have worked in the financial sector as a banking executive and in the field
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