International Women’s Day: Embrace Equity
Today is International Women’s Day, a celebration of achievements and a call for equality for women throughout the world. According to the International Women’s Day website, International Women’s Day began in the United States in 1909 and became an international holiday two years later.
International Women’s Day, which coincides with March’s Women’s History Month in the United States, is annually marked by themes to uplift and amplify the holiday’s message. This year’s theme is #EmbraceEquity; according to the International Women’s Day website, the #EmbraceEquity is intended to spur conversation about the need to go beyond mere equality. The International Women’s Day site says that as people start from different places, inclusion and belonging require equitable action.
This year, United Way of King County asked women partners and board members to say what this year’s International Women’s Day theme means to them. Here’s what they said.
“On this International Women’s Day, let us embrace equity and empower all women and girls to shape their own future. Equity is not a nice to have, it is a must have.”
~ Kate Behncken, corporate vice president, Microsoft philanthropies and United Way board member:
“As women, we have a responsibility to lift each other up, as we move up. We should celebrate each other every day of the year as we recognize the successes of our sisters. Everyday is OUR day, International Women’s Day is the day to acknowledge that.”
~ Carmen Best, Microsoft director of global security risk operations and a United Way board member
“When I think about International Women’s Day, I think about our elders, our women ancestors who paved the way for us to be here today. When we think about being able to discuss these issues and not feel retaliated against—though I know there are some circles where women are still retaliated against—there was a time where our female ancestors were retaliated against for speaking out for their rights and their hopes and visions and dreams.”
~ Andrea Caupain, CEO, Byrd Barr Place
“Embrace equity means creating more than just a day to post hashtags or write thoughtful essays. It means creating a system that acknowledges unequal power and unfair privilege and takes real actions to fairly distribute power. It means recognizing that equity cannot be achieved without including those who are the most inequitably treated and affected by our current systems that enforce inequity.”
~ Lisa Chin, former CEO of Treehouse and United Way board member
I echo those who I have also asked this question to and say that every day is women’s day. Every day we are out there doing work, changing the world, humanizing, nurturing ideas and growth, sharing our knowledge and learning with others. Women are stepping up, into the light, and lifting up each other. Let’s keep that going. The Future is Female.
~ Jessica Juarez-Wagner, program manager, Potlatch Fund
“International Women’s Day is an important day to me to honor and appreciate all of the contributions and progress that women have made around the world. As a mother of two girls, this day is even more meaningful as I reflect on their future and how we can continue to make advancement. We still have a lot of work to do and I hope that collective effort, courage and determination will help embrace more equity and inclusion for all women.”
~ Bo Lee, market president—Pacific Northwest, BNY Mellon and United Way board member
““We all have a role to play in building and shaping a more inclusive and equitable future. I’m proud to work at a company like Nordstrom that is working to create a more equitable fashion industry as well as an environment where every customer and employee is welcome, respected, appreciated and able to be themselves. I am honored to be a part of United Way of King County, which is using its resources to foster equitable solutions and progress within our community.”
~ Ann Munson Steines, CLO/general counsel/ corporate secretary of Nordstrom and United Way board member
“International Women’s day exists to remind us that women all over the world still face challenges in many aspects of life – access to health, professional challenges and body autonomy to just name a few. Today let us recommit to embracing equity – we all need to do the work starting right here!”
~Mala Raman, community volunteer and United Way board member
“Equity is about dismantling systems and co-construction of policies and procedures which open pathways for the most disadvantaged communities. Equity requires long term commitment of resources, support and values reflective of the guiding collective ethos.”
~ Sarah Sense-Wilson, co-founder of Urban Native Education Alliance
“Embracing equity to me means honoring those that have paved the way and to follow their lead in continuing to push for fairness. It also means to continuously examine my own biases and work to overcome them.”
~ Monica Trejo, United Way of King County Benefits Hub coach