3 things i'll be celebrating on international women's day
By Reyna Matthes Published March 2018
I’m kind of cheating on this ‘3 things’ idea. The fact is, there are dozens of things I’d like to celebrate on IWD. Somehow, I managed to group them into 3 categories….
First, I’ll be celebrating emerging and established female leaders in every field. I salute these women who know what they want and go for it. And it’s not just about ambition: the women I’m thinking about carry a social conscience into their leadership. Their career agenda is much broader than simply their own success. They aim to make a contribution to society, through championing social, environmental and economic issues.
Michelle Simmons, Australian of the Year 2018, is one of these. Professor Simmons and her team lead the world in the exciting world of quantum computing, and is a passionate advocate for science education for girls. (To balance the ledger, she is keen to support all young Australians, male and female, in ‘pursuing what they love’)
Samantha Kerr, as Young Australian of the Year 2018, felt ‘truly humbled’ by the award and saw it as a recognition of the achievements of women in sport. Violet Roumelidis was named Telstra Business Woman of the Year 2017 for her fabulous work in settling refugees in Australia. And I think media professional Lisa Wilkinson AM, deserves applause for believing she’s worth equal pay, and asking for it! I wonder who would be on your list?
Second, I’ll be acknowledging the importance of research, reporting and thought leadership. Without robust research, measurement and reporting, we’d have no firm foundations on which to build our vision and our case for change. I was thrilled to read the WGEA Gender Equality Scorecard Report that came out late last year. Studies like Women in leadership: Lessons from Australian companies leading the way (McKinsey/WGEA/BCA) and a plethora of articles in the field, help me stay in touch with the big issues and establish goals for my own work.
The theme for this year’s IWD is #PressforProgress. This is underlining the importance of collective action to establish gender inclusivity around the world. The IWD people say that at the current rate it will take another 200 years. You might think, ‘hang on, we’re doing really well in corporate Australia!’ But this issue is about all of us, globally.
I think documentation: research, reporting, statistics, stories – are all vital to drive progress.
Third, I’ll be celebrating women who speak up. I enjoyed watching the National Press Club Address in December 2017, with Elizabeth Proust, Jane Halton, and Peggy O'Neal talking candidly about how to level the playing field in business. In this category I include the #MeToo campaign, providing a powerful social media platform for women to speak up about sexual abuse. I am also interested in the views of people like Catherine Deneuve and Germaine Greer, who question the assumptions and implications of the #MeToo campaign. I’m still processing how I feel about these views, but I do know that we all need to have conversations around these issues.
What will you be celebrating?
So there you have it. Perhaps I’ll see you at an International Women's Day event somewhere on the 8th March. You can find out what’s happening near you on their website. I’d love to hear what you think deserves celebrating or acknowledging on International Women’s Day. I’ve focused on examples from my neck of the woods – Australia – but I’d love to hear what’s going on in your corner. Send me your ‘3 things’ list, with short explanations, and I’ll publish them on our Executive Central blog (with attribution), in time for IWD Day.