International Women’s Day has come and passed, but its message has stuck with us. Now, with a potential economic crisis looming over the country and emotions running high, it is more important than ever to look at the lessons we’ve learned and take the debate around equality into the rest of 2019, lest its voices be lost amidst the chaos.
This year’s motto was #balanceforbetter, calling to “think equal, build smart and innovate for change”. But is that really necessary? The debate around equality and feminism is still quite prevalent in the media, so do we really need to dedicate a day for further discussion?
To cast our eye as to why this may indeed be the case, let us reflect on a touch of history: The first women’s day was organised in 1909 by the socialist party of America. Since its very conception, its purpose has been twofold: to celebrate women’s achievements and to highlight areas for improvement in women’s rights and equality. To begin with, these areas were very clear, such as granting women the right to vote, access to education and vocational training and the right to hold public office.
Today, in many countries around the world these goals have become a reality and International Women’s Day serves as an occasion to look back on these accomplishments and celebrate how far we’ve come.
Does that mean the work is done? Absolutely not. In many third world countries especially, women are still treated as second class citizens and are deprived of education, opportunities and even basic things such as access to birth control and hygiene products; not to mention the atrocity that is female genital mutilation. These are very real and very clear problems that need to be highlighted and talked about and International Women’s Day can provide a platform to do just that. There are amazing projects and organisations operating all over the world trying to make it a better and safer place for women.
At Phoenix, we’ve partnered with A21, whose goal it is to end modern day slavery, a very real problem which disproportionately affects women. In 2016 there were an estimated 40.3 million victims of human trafficking, 71% of which are women. How can we balance the scales when there are still people in this world being denied even their most basic human rights?
Outreach, awareness and global thinking are vital if we want to make a change on a deeper level. Of course that doesn’t mean that there aren’t opportunities for improvement closer to home as well. Equality starts with two basic things: Empowerment and opportunity. Empowerment means teaching women and girls the necessary skills as well as the courage to pursue their goals; opportunity means opening the door for them to realise them. As a basic principle of equipping individuals in empowerment, the nature of the individual and their unique gifting must be recognised.
But how do we do this? To see an individual’s gifts, one must truly know them, and thus be in tight community. Providing safe spaces, listening and sharing experiences are so vital. We need to realise that in order to advance we don’t need to tear each other down. Instead, through helping and empowering each other we can create enough space at the top for everyone.
If we can adopt this kind of thinking, it has the potential to affect every corner of our lives: whether it’s being there for one another in times of crisis or sharing necessary work skills with a co-worker in order to help them advance; empowerment must be undergirded in compassion.
Phoenix as a company was built by women. Working in a largely female environment, we have a unique perspective on what it means to be a woman in today’s corporate world and diligently pursue the creation of celebrate pertaining to 1- amazing women with which we work 2- providing the tools to outgrow the restrictions they may still face in their working lives.
Phoenix’s core pillars: integrity, honour, skill and impact are the same tools that we will need to close the gap that still persists between men and women in the workplace and beyond. If we act with integrity towards one another, afford the same respect to all, share our skills and don’t lose sight of our wider global impact, each and every one of us has the opportunity to effect change.
While it’s important to be aware of the opportunities that might not be open to us at the moment, it is equally important to be aware of the opportunities we do have and to think of ways to share them with those less fortunate than us, be it through charity work or personal outreach in our day to day lives. By aiming for impacting 1000s, we focus on the one. Through the pursuit of the outworking of these key values, we hold to the conviction that next year on the 8th of March we will look back and celebrate a world that’s a little bit more equal, a little bit more balanced and a whole lot more empowered.
Written by Phoenix Staffing in collaboration with Helena Cate