Today we celebrate International Women’s Day across the world. On the 8th March, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements. Many global corporations have also started to more actively support IWD by running their own internal events and through supporting external ones. For example, on 8 March search engine and media giant Google changes its logo on its global search pages. Year on year IWD is increasing in status and the United States even designates the whole month of March as ‘Women’s History Month’.
International Women’s Day has been observed since the early 1900’s during a time when there was great expansion and turbulence in the industrialised world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.
There has been a significant change and attitude shift on women’s equality and with more women in the boardroom than ever before, many women feel like we have true equality in the workplace. There’s constant conversation and initiatives around how women achieve in the workplace and with the release of Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” book in 2013, the conversation has never been hotter.
Here at Kaltura, we have women in all teams including developers, project managers, customer success directors, technical support and finance directors, we have a female founder (Michal Tsur, Chief Marketing Officer) plus 3 of our 6 most senior executives are women including Leah Belsky (Senior Vice President, Operations) and Naama Halevi (Chief Finance Officer), so it’s interesting to read about other’s experience in the workplace. At Kaltura, we don’t “lean in”, we work as hard as the men and we are rewarded equally – it would be great to see this mirrored in more organisations across the globe. Leah Belsky (Senior Vice President, Operations) and Michal have written a great response to Sandberg’s “lean in” and you can read it here. Both our female and male colleagues have the same rights, the same opportunities and the same flexible working to support you through life. Whether it’s the birth of a new child, the loss of a family member or space to grow your career or education, flexible working runs throughout Kaltura. We have a flexible work-from-home policy for both women and men to enjoy their family life whilst continuing on their success path, and the outcome of this is happy employees who achieve at a high level without having to choose between your job and your family.
To mark International Women’s Day, a couple of the Kalturian girls from the European team attended a British American Business event last night “Women in Technology – Contributing to the Innovation Story” in London. There were 4 amazing speakers:
- Pru Ashby, Head of Partnerships, Tech City Investment Organisation
- Maggie Buggie, Vice President, Global Head of Digital Sales and Markets , Capgemini Consulting
- Nicola Hills, Director, WebSphere Integration & Governance Development, IBM UK Ltd
- Virginia Hodge, Trustee, Institution of Engineering and Technology and Senior Technology Strategist, NATS
What stood out at the event was the diverse industries, roles and age ranges that were represented in both the speakers and attendees. It was a really positive experience to hear so many success stories and a really positive vibe.
This was an interesting event for me because my experience in the workplace has been really positive and for the first time in my 20 year career, I’ve now got a male boss for the first time. I’ve had female bosses throughout my career across a number of industries and until it was discussed last night, I hadn’t even realized this was the case.
The tone of International Women’s Day has changed substantially in the past few years and has moved from being a reminder about the negatives to a celebration of the positives. From female prime ministers to female astronauts, there’s success in all industries at all levels for women. So, to both my fellow female Kalturian colleagues and to women across the world: Happy International Women’s Day, here’s to success for all for the future.
International Women’s Day Facts:
Great unrest and critical debate was occurring amongst women. Women’s oppression and inequality was spurring women to become more vocal and active in campaigning for change. Then in 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights.
In accordance with a declaration by the Socialist Party of America, the first National Woman’s Day (NWD) was observed across the United States on 28 February. Women continued to celebrate NWD on the last Sunday of February until 1913.
In 1910 a second International Conference of Working Women was held in Copenhagen. A woman named a Clara Zetkin (Leader of the ‘Women’s Office’ for the Social Democratic Party in Germany) tabled the idea of an International Women’s Day. She proposed that every year in every country there should be a celebration on the same day – a Women’s Day – to press for their demands. The conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, representing unions, socialist parties, working women’s clubs, and including the first three women elected to the Finnish parliament, greeted Zetkin’s suggestion with unanimous approval and thus International Women’s Day was the result.
Following the decision agreed at Copenhagen in 1911, International Women’s Day (IWD) was honoured the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on 19 March. More than one million women and men attended IWD rallies campaigning for women’s rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination. However less than a week later on 25 March, the tragic ‘Triangle Fire’ in New York City took the lives of more than 140 working women, most of them Italian and Jewish immigrants. This disastrous event drew significant attention to working conditions and labour legislation in the United States that became a focus of subsequent International Women’s Day events. 1911 also saw women’s ‘Bread and Roses‘ campaign.
On the eve of World War I campaigning for peace, Russian women observed their first International Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February 1913. In 1913 following discussions, International Women’s Day was transferred to 8 March and this day has remained the global date for International Women’s Day ever since. In 1914 further women across Europe held rallies to campaign against the war and to express women’s solidarity.
On the last Sunday of February, Russian women began a strike for “bread and peace” in response to the death over 2 million Russian soldiers in war. Opposed by political leaders the women continued to strike until four days later the Czar was forced to abdicate and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote. The date the women’s strike commenced was Sunday 23 February on the Julian calendar then in use in Russia. This day on the Gregorian calendar in use elsewhere was 8 March.
1918 – 1999
Since its birth in the socialist movement, International Women’s Day has grown to become a global day of recognition and celebration across developed and developing countries alike. For decades, IWD has grown from strength to strength annually. For many years the United Nations has held an annual IWD conference to coordinate international efforts for women’s rights and participation in social, political and economic processes. 1975 was designated as ‘International Women’s Year‘ by the United Nations. Women’s organisations and governments around the world have also observed IWD annually on 8 March by holding large-scale events that honour women’s advancement and while diligently reminding of the continued vigilance and action required to ensure that women’s equality is gained and maintained in all aspects of life.
2000 and beyond
IWD is now an official holiday in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia. The tradition sees men honouring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts. In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother’s Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.