Better the balance, better the world. Celebrating International Women’s Day.

International Women’s Day is a global event that takes place annually on March 8th. It is a day for celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the world. Although it may seem like a recent event, the first gathering for International Women’s Day took place in 1911. In the early 1900s, women’s oppression and inequality led to an uprising which eventually resulted in 15,000 women marching through New York City in 1908. They wanted shorter hours, better pay and voting rights. As a result of this, the first National Women’s Day took place across America on February 28th 1909. Then in 1910, at the Conference for Working Women in Copenhagen, the idea for an International Women’s day was proposed. The idea was that a celebration should take place every year, in every country, in order to press for Women’s demands. The idea was unanimously approved and the first International Women’s Day was marked the following year in 1911.

Fast forward to 2019 and the fight for women’s rights are still on-going. Although much has changed since the 1900s, there is still a lot to be achieved. The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #BalanceforBetter, the idea being to celebrate women’s achievements while calling for a more gender balanced world. According to the official International Women’s Day website, ‘The race is on for the gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, more gender-balance in wealth, gender-balanced sports coverage.’ On the surface the statistics look promising. There are more women on UK boards than ever before, in 2017 a record 208 female MPs were elected to the House of Commons at the General Election. The same year saw 61,430 more women working in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) fields, 12,00 more female professional engineers, 22,00 more women working as science and engineering technicians and 5,500 more women working in management roles in science, engineering and technology. Women hold inspiring, influential and powerful roles all around the world. However, International Women’s Day highlights the fact that ‘women are still not paid equally to their male counterparts, women are still not present in equal numbers in business or politics and globally, women’s education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.’ Yes, progress has been made, but there is still more to do.

On Friday 8th March, the IGNITE team from VANEL (Voluntary Action North East Lincolnshire) will be holding an event at Grimsby Town Hall to promote #BalanceforBetter in the local area. It will celebrate the talents and achievements of local women and girls and will make a contribution to female empowerment by providing positive opportunities for them. There will be stalls from local businesses and organisations, women from the local community, inspirational female speakers, arts, crafts, information based workshops and live music. There will also be a focus on promoting careers in fields that are not typically seen as ‘female’ such as STEM, Business and Entrepreneurship.

The International Women’s Day event aims to inspire local females and to show them that there are no limits to what they can achieve. Grimsby is currently one of the most deprived areas in the UK and in a place where opportunity seems lacking, it is important to show women and girls in the local area that there are opportunities for them to make a difference, for themselves and for the environment in which they live. We want to encourage them to help forge a more gender-balanced world, to challenge stereotypes and bias, to influence the actions and beliefs of others and to celebrate the achievements of women everywhere. After all ‘better the balance, better the world’.

The event will take place between 9am and 6pm, drop-in at any time or come for the day. It is free to attend and tickets can be booked online via EventBrite by searching for International Women’s Day, Grimsby. More information can be found on Facebook at IWDGrimsby, alternatively you can contact IGNITE on 01472 315437 or e-mail kirsty@vanel.org.uk.

Article by Kirsty Greenfield, IGNITE Team VANEL. First appeared in Grimsby Telegraph 4th March 2019.