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Author  Alice Negbenose, Amy Metcalfe and Solmaz Purser - Project Editors, Axelos

March 8, 2021 |

 2 min read

  • Blog
  • Collaboration
  • Leadership
  • Value

Ever since the first International Women’s Day was marked, it has been an annual opportunity to highlight and celebrate women all over the world. The day also aims to raise awareness about women’s equality and continue to help establish positive change for women. The theme of International Women’s Day 2021 is 'choose to challenge': ‘A challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change.

So let's all choose to challenge.

This year we shone a light on some outstanding Axelos women who have each explained what this theme means to them and why it’s important to celebrate International Women’s day.

A gender equal world

From the day that the first office opened for business, women have been fighting for a gender equal world with regards to responsibilities, opportunities, and pay within the workplace. Across the globe, women are paid less than men for work of the same value, earning 77 cents for every dollar that a man earns for work of equal value.

Rachida Chekaf, who is Head of Translations and Head of Quality & Accreditation at AXELOS, believes that a gender equal world is one ‘where we don’t need a special day to celebrate women’; a place where she’s ‘never asked how it feels to be a woman in the workplace.

Katie Sellers, our HR representative, feels we will only have achieved a gender equal world when ‘we don’t have stereotypes or expectations based on gender or another physical characteristic.

Advice for women entering the workplace

Many women may find starting a career daunting, whether it is their first job or returning to work after a career break. A report by PWC found that addressing the career break penalty could boost female earnings by £1.1 billion annually. For example, three out of five professional women who return to the workplace are likely to be placed in lower-skilled or lower-paid roles.

Margo Leach, the CPO at AXELOS, advises that we should all have ‘appropriate confidence’, which is to be confident but have the competency and skills to back it up.

Rachida says ‘Be who you are, and if it’s not working for you don’t change yourself. Go somewhere else.’ It’s important to be with people who value you and your experiences.

Choose to challenge

This year’s theme of ‘choose to challenge’ resonates with everyone in a different way. Some of the statements in this year’s campaign include:

  • ‘I will help forge a gender equal world’
  • ‘I will maintain a gender equal mindset’
  • ‘I will challenge gender stereotypes and bias’
  • ‘I will forge positive visibility of women’
  • ‘I will celebrate women’s achievements’

For Katie, it means ‘not only taking personal responsibility for myself, but also taking responsibility for challenging something that I think is wrong’.

Margo believes that choosing to challenge is all about ‘speaking up if you see unfair treatment and if you’re being treated differently.

Rachida sums it up nicely: ‘Don’t be a bystander.

These three women have vastly different experiences and will share their thoughts on women in the workplace in their full interviews, which will be published later this week.