This year we honour the women who are paving the way for future generations.
We celebrate Kamala Harris: the first female, first Black and first Asian-American Vice President of the USA. We celebrate Zara Mohammed who just became the first woman to be Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain. We celebrate Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the first woman and the first African person to head the World Trade Organisation, and we celebrate Prof Sarah Gilbert, the lead professor behind the Oxford coronavirus vaccine.
We also celebrate all those women working on the frontline of this pandemic. The women working tirelessly in the NHS, the women who work as paid or unpaid carers, committed teachers, retail staff, and dedicated researchers and scientists developing vaccines: thank you for everything you’re doing to build a safer world.
But these trail blazing women are just one side of the story.
Before the pandemic, women were already picking up more of the unpaid and undervalued work than men, but with additional domestic chores, family care and home-schooling, women are picking up proportionally even more.
UN Women estimates that the coronavirus pandemic could wipe out 25 years of increasing gender equality. Before the pandemic, women were already picking up more of the unpaid and undervalued work than men, but with additional domestic chores, family care and home-schooling, women are picking up proportionally even more.
This year’s theme is #ChooseToChallenge - a call to action for each of us to challenge gender inequality and bias; to champion the women whose achievements are overlooked, to object when a woman is talked over and to challenge the build back better narrative, to put equality at its heart.
Today, let us remind ourselves of what can happen when women and girls are able to fulfil their potential. Let us think of the ways we all benefit when we are able to tap into the talent, creativity and leadership of women.
To the women of the past on whose shoulders we stand, to the women breaking new ground today and to every woman helping herself and others to simply get through each and every day - thank you and happy International Women’s Day.