It's not easy to be a woman nowadays. We may have come a long way from repressing women's rights, but we are still a patriarchal society in general. It makes the occasion of celebrating Women's Equality Day on August 26 more vital than ever.
Today we get to see women representatives in the military, in space, and as CEOs of Fortune companies. But they had to undergo many struggles to achieve equal rights. Feminism as a wave brought in multiple changes in women’s lives worldwide, but we can’t deny the suffragettes to have achieved where women stand today.
The right to vote is a fundamental civil right in a democratic country, but it wasn’t always the case. Even in the United States, women were not allowed voting rights until 1920.
Women began to agitate and raise their voices for equal voting rights in the early 19th century in the US.
After all the fight, the 19th Amendment came in 1920, giving voting rights to every citizen regardless of gender.
This revolutionary decision embarks on the significance of Women’s Equality Day in today’s world. It celebrates the achievements of women’s rights activists and reminds us of the daily struggles that women go through.
When is Women’s Equality Day 2021?
Women's Equality Day is observed on August 26th in the United States to commemorate women's suffrage and equality in all spheres of life and society.
Despite it being a US-centric event, we believe every global workplace should mark this occasion to show their solidarity and support towards women.
What is Women’s Equality Day?
Celebrated every 26th August, Women’s Equality Day honors the women's suffrage movement in the U.S. and remembers the hurdles women had to overcome in their stride towards progress.
It reminds us of those strong women who faced violence and discrimination just for belonging to a gender minority.
History of Women’s Equality Day
If we were to look back at the early 19th century, American women could not inherit property and made half of the men’s wages in any job. This lead to the women’s suffrage movement, where women participated actively for political rights and equal representation.
In the 1900s, many countries like Finland, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom gave equal voting rights to women, and the movement continued to spread across the world. Soon, U.S. introduced the nineteenth amendment to the Constitution in the year 1878. But, it was a failure and gained no attention.
I raise up my voice, not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard… We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back. ― Malala Yousafzai
But when women participated in World War I, their long-drawn suffrage gained enough support. That was the turning point. Activists pointed out the democratic fights in Europe, but at the same time, half of the American citizens at home were denied democratic rights.
Constitutional amendments in the U.S. required two-third of the state’s approval. So, 36 of them ratified the 19th amendment before it could pass. The deciding vote was in the hand of the Tennessee legislature named Harry T. Burn. He was a young state representative and received a plea from his mother to support the amendment. His vote became the deciding factor, and he switched his decision last minute.
Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights.- Hillary Clinton
But wait! Women’s fight for equal rights doesn’t end here. Even today, the gender pay gap is a reality, and it is an impacting factor in women’s economic power. Gender discrimination, workplace harassment is still prevalent in many workplaces and business fields.
Bella Abzug, a New York Representative, introduced a bill on July 30, 1971, for this American holiday that celebrates women. And in the year 1973, Congress decided to designate August 26 as Women’s Equality Day to remember the struggles of women in the past, present, and future.
8 Ways to Celebrate Women’s Equality Day in the Office
Here are some mindful ways to celebrate Women’s Equality Day in the office. Let’s get started:
1. Introduce a Mentoring Program
Despite all the efforts women make, more men hold top-level positions. Until May 2018, Fortune 500 companies had only 24 female CEOs, comprising only 5 percent of the total posts.
Keeping this in mind, we believe guidance helps make a difference and encourages female workers to strive for success. All you need is a mentorship program where workers connect with their higher authorities and discuss career goals, networking, education, and other scopes to success. Women should see other women as being mentors. It will make them feel more empowered about their abilities. Representation matters a lot!
Women’s involvement in leadership is essential for business growth in 2021. For that, it's vital that great leaders support, empower, and listen to the women in our workplaces.
2. Encourage Girl Power
It is high time, as a manager or a leader, you must think about uplifting the lives of young women in the community. This August, you can show your support for women’s rights by encouraging more and more opportunities for women. Here are some ways to promote girl power:
- Set up a women-specific internship program
- Invite middle school and high school girls for job shadowing/side-barging
- Vocalize STEM careers to a Girl Scout troop
- Offer a college scholarship to your best female employees who want to pursue higher studies.
3. Organize a Collection Drive
According to the National Women’s Law Center, in 2016, more than one in eight women in the United States lived below poverty. They were dependent on the supplemental source to run their families.
No matter how good the economy is, many women still live in unsuitable environments. To support such underprivileged women, you can hold a collection drive in the office.
The drive must include sanitary pads, underwear, diapers, food supplies, socks, clothes, etc.
If you’re working from the office, consider giving an early log-out to your staff on Friday. This way, they can gather the required stuff they wish to donate, and on Monday, you’ll go together for the drive. Or, if you’re working from home due to the pandemic, ask your employees to courier their goods to one single location and then parcel it away at once.
4. Do some Charity
If you’re financially equipped as a company or a business, please donate to the cause!
You, along with your staff, can organize a fundraiser or a donation booth where everyone can donate any amount. You can choose a window for the lowest and highest amount. Or, if you’re financially suitable, consider donating all by yourself, representing the whole organization.
To help you out, here are some resources where you can rightfully vote your dollars:
- Center for Health and Gender Equity
- Global Fund for Women
- Equal Rights Advocates
- Gender Justice
- International Center for Research on Women
- League of Women Voters
- National Women’s Law Center
- Institute for Women’s Policy Research
- Equality Now
- National Organization for Women
5. Aid a Cause
In this post-modern world, women’s suffrage is limited to social media only, but many modern causes need compassionate supporters.
This Women’s Equality Day, volunteer as a team and make this a team-building activity. Come up with a project and discuss its execution. Make the project women-centric—an excellent initiative to promote awareness and team bonding.
Here are a few projects to ideate and work as a team:
- You can visit schools or join students in their online classes and do a reading session on gender studies.
- Organize a blood donation camp
- Consider doing some charity for the homeless women
- Organize lunch and learn sessions with some women leaders of your region
6. Listen to Women
Are you wondering how to improve work conditions for the female staff at your company? Well, all you need to do is, ask!
Many complaints about harassment, workplace discrimination, subjugation, go unnoticed or they don’t get lodged even. This is because of the social stigmas and humiliation attached. To solve such uncomfortable situations for women and call out predators at work, you must listen to them. And you can do that innovatively and confidentially. Here are some possible ways:
- Set up a suggestion box
- Set up a designated complaint box for sexual harassment
- Carry out employee surveys
- Take individual inputs on ways to improve job satisfaction and women’s safety at work.
Recommended Resource: Women's Safety In The Workplace
7. Update the Book Shelf
Education and awareness is the best way to celebrate equal rights! And nothing beats reading some great feminist authors on Women's Equality Day to help everyone reset their patriarchal worldview.
Reading is a mindful and relaxing activity that helps you connect with the outside world. So, to help you get associated with feminism and women’s rights, we would like to recommend some fantastic books that will give you insights on gender equality.
- We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- Broad Influence by Jay Newton-Small
- Women, Race & Class by Angela Davis
- Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- Women and Power: A Manifesto by Mary Beard
- Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado-Perez
- The Women’s Suffrage Movement edited by Sally Roesch Wagner
8. Give a Shout Out
Finally, to mark Women’s Equality Day, you can simply spread the word and announce the occasion to garner the needed attention.
Take it to social media and your internal portals. Change your logo to support the event and ask your design team to come up with exciting ideas.
Also, you can run a fun quiz amongst the team members. For example, ask them to guess the year when women got voting rights in the U.S. Only a few will get it right, we bet!
Happy Women’s Equality Day
Vantage Circle supports equal employment rights for women. We are dedicated to improving their working conditions throughout the year, and not just on Women’s Equality Day.
We believe every company must promote equality alongside diversity and inclusion and make their workplaces a safe space for every employee, especially for women.
On that note, Vantage Circle wishes you a happy Women’s Equality Day!