Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

The theme of International Women’s Day 2020, explained

Sanna Marin, Prime Minister of FinlandFareed Zakaria, Host, Fareed Zakaria GPS, CNN, USAspeaking in the Social Mobility: Getting to 50-50 Gender Parity session at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2020 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland women men female male girls boys teenagers teens development gender gap parity equality diversity progress change feminine masculine woman man sex biology roles dynamic balance bias androgynous international womens day un united nations

Sanna Marin, Prime Minister of Finland, speaks at the 'Getting to 50-50 Gender Parity' at Davos 2020. Image: Flickr/World Economic Forum

Darren Thackeray
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Education, Gender and Work

  • International Women’s Day takes place on 8 March 2020.
  • This year’s campaign, #EachForEqual, draws attention to the difference individuals can make.
  • Western Europe currently has the highest gender parity rating at 76.7%.
  • Complete gender equality may not be achieved for another century.

"An equal world is an enabled world" - and every one of us can do our bit to bring about gender equality.

Have you read?

That’s the core message of #EachForEqual, the campaign at the centre of this year’s International Women’s Day. It seeks to draw attention to the idea that gender inequality isn’t a women’s issue, but an economic one – as gender equality is essential for economies and communities to thrive.

Business boardrooms, government departments and media coverage are just some of the key areas of focus highlighted by the campaign.

And by celebrating women’s achievement, raising awareness of bias and calling out inequality, the campaign says, we can all help to bring about change.

A symbol for change

The United Nations first celebrated International Women’s Day during International Women’s Year in 1975. By 1977, the UN and its member states proclaimed 8 March would be an official day for women’s rights and world peace. It’s now observed all over the world.

The #EachForEqual campaign has become a symbol of the movement, which extends far beyond 8 March, with activities running all year long. The idea is to reinforce and galvanize collective action, holding events and talks that urge us all to share responsibility and play our part.

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The campaign highlights six key areas:

1. Championing women forging tech innovation

2. Applauding equality for women athletes

3. Forging inclusive workplaces so women thrive

4. Supporting women to earn on their own terms

5. Empowering women through health education

6. ​Increasing visibility for female creatives

Progress toward parity

As the campaign highlights, forging equality in these areas and more is crucial to a “healthier, wealthier and more harmonious” world.

Gender parity is highly regarded as a benchmark of progress, and has a direct bearing on whether or not economies and societies thrive. According to the Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2020, Western Europe has taken the largest strides toward parity, currently at 76.7%, closely followed by North America at 72.9%. South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa are at the lower end of the scale, with parity sitting between 60.5% and 66.1%.

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However, these figures don’t factor in overall trends and timelines. For example, progress toward gender parity in North America stalled during 2019, while nations with lower parity made huge strides in the right direction.

Great leaps are also being made in individual sectors such as education, where it is forecast that gender parity will be fully attained within 12 years. In fact, full parity in this area has already been achieved in 40 of the 153 countries ranked in the report.

Social Mobility: Getting to 50-50 Gender Parity session at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2020 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland women men female male girls boys teenagers teens development gender gap parity equality diversity progress change feminine masculine woman man sex biology roles dynamic balance bias androgynous international womens day un united nations
Nordic nations lead the world in gender parity. Image: Global Gender Gap Report 2020.

Mind the 100-year gap

The Forum report also concludes that none of us are likely to see true gender parity in our lifetimes, with the next generation likely to face similar challenges. All told, it could take as long as 99.5 years to achieve global gender parity.

There’s still a long way to go, but ambitious campaigns such as International Women’s Day play a pivotal role in keeping the debate alive and the issues front and centre.

International Women’s Day takes place on Sunday 8 March 2020.

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