International Women’s Day 2023
International Women’s Day can be a time for a celebration of women (and rightly so), for reflection on the progress that’s been made towards equality and how much is left to do (also right) – but my dream this International Women’s Day is to see some real action.
We should absolutely celebrate young women, and we do. The young women I meet every day are bursting with potential, and I believe they have the power to change the world. Like the young women who came to Westminster to meet Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Jonathan Ashworth, last month and articulately share their experiences of the benefits system. The amazing young women who are bringing insight and ideas to designing a new Young Women’s Trust service (watch this space), those who are planning our campaigns, our talented peer researchers.
What’s holding young women back?
I also meet young women who tell me they’re held back, facing barriers, trapped. They can’t get the flexibility they need to be able to manage both work and their health, or juggle their caring responsibilities. They find the cost of childcare is more than they earn, so they can’t afford to work. They work hard and prepare but a male colleague always gets the promotion.
We’re all familiar with the glass ceiling, but young women are facing a ‘broken rung’ at the bottom of the ladder. Despite all their promise, they’re spending their energy and ingenuity on just getting by.
Time for real action
We must change things for them. And that will take more than warm words. It will take big changes – to laws, attitudes, policies. But it will also take many small changes, changes that we can all make in our roles as parents, managers, colleagues and friends.
We can all call out sexism when it happens. Managers can say yes to flexible working requests, can make sure young women aren’t always the ones taking notes and making tea, can support them to progress. Friends can share opportunities and networks. Partners can share the load and take their parental leave.
These small things all help bring those barriers down for young women, and speed them on their way to the great things they’re capable of and deserve.
Take a look at our ideas. What are you going to do today? And when International Women’s Day is over – what will you do tomorrow?
Why not fundraise with us for International Women’s Day?
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