The first International Women’s Day was celebrated in 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, with more than a million men and women attending rallies campaigning for women’s rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination. Now, more than a hundred years on, the fight for women’s rights continues…
“No-one owns International Women’s Day,” Glenda Stone, global campaign co-ordinator for International Women’s Day says. “There’s a lot of groups that try to claim the day but there’s a wonderful Gloria Steinem quote that I think sums it up nicely. She says: ‘The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all that care about human rights.’
“That’s a great frame for International Women’s Day because it means so many different things to so many people around the world, for some it’s that call to action, for some it’s fighting the good fight, for some it’s celebrating women, for others it’s a way to engage their employees and for other’s it’s a great get together. The unifying rally of be bold for change really resonates and speaks not just to women, but to men and non-binary people around the world who really want to see a more gender inclusive society.”
And that’s this year’s message: be bold for change. To celebrate this we’ll be highlighting a number of women on Virgin.com that we think are igniting change in their own unique ways in different industries and sectors of society.
Gender equality is important in many walks of life, but especially in business and Virgin’s global head of brand, Lisa Thomas, says she finds it unacceptable that many businesses still don’t understand the importance of gender equality. “There needs to be a fundamental and genuine change in attitude. Employers and broader society need to embrace gender equality because they recognise the benefits it brings – rather than because they feel they have to because women are standing up and saying it must happen,” she says. “Now more than ever, businesses need to be bold in their steps towards embracing diversity and inclusion in the broadest sense.
“At Virgin we believe that the best place to work is one where differences are celebrated and people bring their personalities to work. Our brand is founded on a history of being bold by disrupting markets and pursuing our mission to change business, for good.
“That's why, on International Women's Day, we support the call to #BeBoldForChange.”
Follow us on Instagram to see more of our International Women's Day portraits and let us know which amazing women you're celebrating this week.