March 8 is International Women's Day, more specifically women's rights' day. On this day we celebrate the achievements and contributions of women in the political, socio-economic, cultural spheres and more.
Although this celebration was not officially recognized by the United Nations until 1977, several countries across Europe and the Americas have underlined or celebrated days dedicated to women's rights since the very beginning of the 20th century.
In recent years, we have achieved historical advancement:
- October 2014: Malala Yousafzai became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
- June 2018: Saudi Arabia legalizes women's the right to drive.
- November 2020: The Scottish Parliament passes a law that will make female hygiene products free.
- January 2021: We witnessed the inauguration of Madame Kamala Harris, the first female VP of the United States of America.
We sure have come a long way, especially when we know that in France women were not allowed to open a bank account without the consent of their husband until July 1965!
But we must not stop here, particularly in the workplace.
Recent studies have shown that, in Europe, it will take 84 years (yes, 84 years!) to achieve pay equity between men and women if the current trend continues.
In addition, micro aggressions remain very real and too frequent all over the world.
Mothers and expectant mothers are being overlooked
"We didn't think you would have liked to participate in this event as it takes place in the evening."
"I could assign this mandate to one of your colleagues, it must not be easy with a child."
"How lucky are you to have several months of vacation after the arrival of your child"
Too often mothers and pregnant women hear such assumptions.
While the intention is not always malicious, the consequences are always real. One of the most unfortunate is that these women are being excluded from the succession planning process.
This leads mothers and expectant women to apprehend being perceived as incapable to the point that they avoid speaking of their children or delay pregnancy announcements as much as possible.
Let's be clear: motherhood is neither simple nor unique. Far from me the idea of wanting to overshadow the experience of the many women for whom pregnancy is painful or complicated.
Offer your help proactively and when you see that the person could benefit from it and avoid jumping to conclusions. Many mothers aspire to successful careers but more importantly, they are fully capable of doing so.
Tasks are assigned based on gender
Alejandro knows how to make coffee.
Emmanuel can plan and organize a team meeting.
Note taking and restitution of accounts are well within Bachir's reach.
Hawa knows how to troubleshoot a computer.
Julie is able to lead a department.
Latifa can analyze and dissect data.
Stop perpetuating stereotypes and misplaced clichés.
Let's also stop attributing qualifiers to women that we would not attribute to men. A woman can very well be sensitive while being ambitious and driven by results. This will actually make her an exceptional leader.
Finally, don't be mistaken: her clothing and hairstyle won't tell you a thing about her skills or performance.
On this March 8, 2021, let's not forget that women's rights are fundamental rights and a non-negotiable part of Human rights.