March is a wonderfully busy and vibrant month for several different reasons – it marks the start of spring; we celebrate Mother’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day too. But one of the most meaningful days in March falls on the 8th: International Women’s Day!
Historically, International Women’s Day has been observed since the early 1900s – a time of great expansion in the industrial world which led to booming population growth and a rise in radical ideologies. Today, although the landscape has changed significantly, the day is still celebrated globally as a chance to recognise and pay tribute to all the wonderful achievements of women throughout history.
This year, the theme for International Women’s Day was #EmbraceEquity, which was chosen in order to “get the world talking about why equal opportunities aren’t enough” (IWD website).
Why limit International Women’s Day to one day only?
We seized this wonderful opportunity and decided to celebrate the fabulous female clients who make up our own community here at World’s End Studios! Throughout the entire month of March, we paid tribute to several of our female-led companies (check these out on our Instagram) and also sent round some questions for them to respond to (see further down the blog!)
To mark the day itself, we hosted a coffee morning for our clients, treating them to a beautiful array of International Women’s Day treats! We handpicked a few charities which resonated with us and placed placards with information about each charity and QR codes to directly make a donation around the room. We also hosted an International Women’s Day Themed Quiz for all the various teams within the building – the winner of which selected a charity of their choosing for us to donate £50 to on their behalf! This was yet another interactive way of celebrating the achievements of women throughout history, as well as encouraging a bit of healthy competition between our clients!
Questions were sent out to our clients, and we have included some of their responses below – please check out our Instagram account for a more in depth look at their companies and to discover more about their amazing work!!
Q: What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
A: International Women’s Day is about coming together to celebrate just how far women’s rights have come whilst recognising that there is still work left to do.
A: It gives me time to think about how fortunate I am to be surrounded by the allies I have, who support me, guide me and are examples to me in my everyday life. In comparison to other women around the world I am very lucky to live the life I live; with the opportunities I have. However, it also makes me think about how far we have to go, and the struggles I continuously face because of my physicality and gender; how much I have to push harder to break barriers that are only put up because of how society sees me, rather than my abilities. Women are often seen as the ‘weaker’ gender, however I think that our persistence and adaptability puts that into question.
Q: Have you noticed a change within your industry in relation to the way women are treated/given opportunities to rise through the ranks?
A: In a big way! Although the Interiors Industry has traditionally been one that has a great female representation, I have loved seeing women rise to the very highest ranks in terms of both creative and commercial positions within the industry.
A: There have been changes, but there’s still a long way to go. There are still meetings where male attendees not familiar with the company address (junior) men rather (senior) women. And there are too many stories about different tones in emails from men when writing to women or men. And, most importantly, the pay gap is still exactly that – a gap.
A: I work with a lot of men- factories, makers, construction, project management, and it’s still a struggle. Calendars of women on walls, being called bossy when others may be called assertive, being asked if I know how to read technical drawings (when I studied architecture and have a masters in furniture design).
I don’t know if I’ve been around long enough to have seen a change, but I know that the more I am seen and heard, the more change will come.
Q: What advice do you have for women looking to grow their own business?
A: I would advise any woman looking to grow their business that, as women, we are not competing with our male counterparts but occupying our own space as women and bringing our own set of changes with that.
A: Don’t be scared to ask questions and learn. I am stubborn and have always been a proud woman, but in some ways that’s my weakness. In times when I wanted to prove myself, I didn’t ask for help or advice. People find it flattering if a younger, ambitious, hard-working person wants their opinion. We can learn so much from those who have made our mistakes before. It isn’t naive or unintelligent to ask questions, its unintelligent not to.
A: Ignore the negative stereotyping and believe in your convictions. And embrace networking – if you don’t, others will.
Q: Which woman/women inspire(s) you the most?
A: Malala Yousafzai is hugely inspirational. She is not even thirty years old yet and her bravery at standing up for women’s and girls’ rights to education in the face of such strong adversity needs to be shared and shouted from the rooftops.
A: So many! But mainly my mother. She has travelled the world being the best in her field, writing books and giving conferences, while filling my sister and I with the self-assurance to push ourselves and not be deterred by bad experiences but to learn from them. She didn’t let society determine her route to being a success in her field, or a good person. I adore her and couldn’t have asked for better.
A: Jacinda Arden – stood out a mile amongst the world’s leaders. For example, it’s estimated that her policies saved 80,000 lives during Covid.
This combination of the charitable coffee morning, paired with the personalised Instagram content and the questionnaire felt like the perfect way for us to mark International Women’s Day 2023, bringing together all our clients in order to celebrate the wonderful achievements of women both past and present.