Events for International Women's Day Range from High Tea to Professional Wrestling

Organizations around the globe make plans to recognize women in the workforce

Kathy Gurchiek By Kathy Gurchiek March 4, 2019
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International Women's Day (IWD), an event that began in 1911 with women around the world rallying for voting and other rights, will be observed March 8. Across the globe, all kinds of events, including discussions on workplace equity, a high tea and professional women's wrestling matches, are planned to mark the day.

This year's IWD theme, #BalanceforBetter, focuses on working toward gender balance—including representation in the boardroom, media coverage and government positions.

Has your company made plans yet to observe the day? If not, get inspired by the events that organizations of all sizes are planning:

--Entrepreneurs in Uganda will host a worldwide discussion on WhatsApp on gender balance that will be shared on various social-media platforms. Prior to the talk, women from different social media platforms will be profiled and share their stories about how they have overcome daily struggles in the workplace.

--Business chambers and councils of the International Chamber House in Melbourne, Australia, are holding an annual high tea and a panel discussion on promoting diversity. Frank Ribuot will moderate. He is CEO for Randstad Australia, New Zealand and India and is the company's pay equity ambassador.

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Managing Pay Equity]

--The Brownstein Group, a public relations company headquartered in Philadelphia that employs 77 people, is hosting a lunch-and-learn program for the agency's female leaders. Employees can ask questions about gender in the workplace and get tips on advancing their careers, said Melinda Ramos, director of HR and talent and diversity.

"It's important to celebrate this day in honor of the women who are driving this agency, particularly our leadership team," she said. As of February, nearly three-fourths of Brownstein's workforce and two-thirds of its executive team were women.

--Women in Industry: Building Inclusive Teams for Success is the theme of panel discussions scheduled in cities around the U.S. The event is hosted by General Assembly, a vocational and technical school in Atlanta, in partnership with the Atlanta Beltline Business Breakfast Series. Guest speakers at a breakfast in Atlanta will talk about the challenges female professionals and their employers face in breaking down gender barriers and will present strategies for gender diversity and inclusion

Similar General Assembly-sponsored programs are offered around the U.S. The focus will be on women in technology during a program in Austin, Texas, on March 6 and during programs held in Boston, Chicago, Seattle and Washington, D.C., on March 8. 

--The Society for Human Resource Management's  global team is working with policymakers and employers to break down barriers and create inclusive workplaces that empower women and girls. On March 8 it celebrates the day with video and blog posts from staff members.

STEM Emphasis 

A number of events will focus on encouraging women and girls to enter science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields:

--In Amsterdam, IWD will be observed with Youth Tech Fest: Where Girls Innovate for girls ages 12 to 18 who want to learn how to code, develop a mobile app, create games or learn about artificial intelligence. Diversity 4 Tech and Science, a digital marketing agency, is hosting the event.

--The Chicago office of Milliman, an insurance actuarial firm with U.S. headquarters in Seattle, is partnering with other groups to champion STEM education. During March, Milliman is providing data and mentors to girls in the area's Horizons for Youth program. 

Participants will form three teams to code and interpret the data and will be challenged to use the data to come up with solutions to overcome obstacles—such as unconscious bias or economic factors—that prevent women and girls from entering the STEM field. Members of the winning team will each receive a $4,000 scholarship; those on the other two teams will each receive a $1,400 scholarship. Pat Renzi, Milliman's acting CEO of the company's life technology solutions group and a principal and board member, will be one of the judges.

--In Seattle, You Can't Be What You Can't See aims to attract more women to the technology sector. The March 8 event is open to men and women. The president of Code.org, Alice Steinglass, will give the keynote address, followed by small-group discussions with speakers.

--Perspective 360 Round Table on March 8 in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, will feature female business and political leaders and women in STEM fields. The event is hosted by Chrysolite Consulting Inc. and Leap Coaching and Consulting.

--The Publicis Health UK agencies in London, will celebrate women in science and health care. A special breakfast will feature Sorrel Bickley, who heads biomedical research at the MS Society, and Ruth Dobson of the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, talking about people who inspired them in their careers and the challenges that women in science face. The company's director of business transformation and client partnerships will talk about her experience of being a woman in a senior position at the largely male-dominated advertising industry.

--APCO Worldwide, a public relations and communications company in Washington, D.C., that was founded by a woman and is majority-owned by women, will host a series of events throughout March. They include a panel on the role men play in empowering women in business and how women mentoring men have contributed to creating inclusive workplaces. Additionally, parents on staff will discuss the kind of workplace they want their children to enter—such as opportunities for leadership and the end of sexual harassment—and their efforts to create a more balanced workplace.

Female Entrepreneurs

--Lauren Demarest, CEO and co-founder of Sweat Vacay in Mykonos, Greece, is taking a different approach to IWD. Her wellness-tourism company, which shares a co-working space for female entrepreneurs, will contribute to and encourage women-founded businesses with campaigns on iFundWomen, a crowdfunding group. 

"Women supporting women has become a mantra for the way we work and operate in many ways and for many reasons," Demarest said of her company.

--Promoting women-owned businesses is the idea behind a community crawl in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood. Participants will meet small-business owners while sampling food and drinks and sitting for a professional portrait that will become part of a mural.

Volunteerism, Film Premiere, Pro Wrestling 

--Lakshmi Eyyuni, HR manager at GigSky in Bengaluru, Karnataka, India, will take a team of employee volunteers to Cheshire Homes Bangalore on March 8 for its annual IWD event. The homes provide residential and educational facilities—as well as basic computer-skills training and job placement support—for women and girls with physical disabilities. 

GigSky is a Silicon Valley-based provider of eSIM data connectivity to more than 190 countries around the world. Among its employees, 40 percent are women and 20 percent serve in leadership positions. Employees in Bengaluru, Karnatakaalso, also will mark the day by taking a group self-defense class.

--A film premiere at the North York Women's Centre in Toronto will feature female entrepreneurs in the local community.  

--At Mamava, a Burlington, Vt., company that designs solutions for nursing mothers on the go, "every day is women's day," said Sascha Mayer, CEO and co-founder. Employees will start IWD with a short meditation designed, she said, "to honor the matriarchy," followed by sharing "boob-shaped bagels around our community kitchen table." Mayer will be among panelists at a UN Women event that day in New York City for the launch of its She Innovates program.

--The Richard Harris International Film Festival in Limerick, Ireland, will celebrate women working in the film industry, including female writers, producers and directors.

--SIGA—Sport Integrity Global Alliance—will observe IWD a day early with a session March 7 in Washington, D.C., on female leadership. The emphasis will be on diversity of thought and women's roles in promoting good governance in sports.

--She Fights on Fridays will feature all-female professional wrestlers "kicking gender stereotypes right in the face." There is a charge for the March 8 event in London.

Find other IWD events in the U.S. and elsewhere listed here.





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