International Women's Day
08/03/2021 (Staff Post - Alan McNiven )
International Women's Day is celebrated on 8 March around the world. It is a focal point in the movement for women's rights. The hashtag #ChooseToChallenge prompts us to challenge gender inequality and consider what steps we’ll take to help forge a gender equal world.
We are of course living at a time of global crisis – and we are now thankfully beginning to talk about recovery. I would argue though that our aims for recovery need to be focused on coming back stronger and remembering that the issues around gender that existed before the crisis have not gone away – in fact they have perhaps become more pronounced.
‘If Not Now, When?’ The Social Renewal Advisory Board Report (January 2021) is clear when it notes that the pandemic has exposed the inequalities that still blight the lives of too many - with women being amongst those who have experienced disproportionate impacts.
Importantly the report calls for an end to the gender segregation that exists in many sectors of the labour market - jobs such as care, cleaning and retail, primarily done by women, need decent pay. Women also often need access to quality childcare – and the report argues that childcare should be designated as a key growth sector in future economic strategies. High quality childcare is a critical enabler of labour market participation and can help address the impact of unequal sharing of caring responsibilities which fall to women. The report also considers the point that unpaid carers – the majority of whom are women volunteers - have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic. Help and support for unpaid carers is massively important going forward and Government is asked to reflect carefully on the value placed on the care provided by these volunteers.
The report also considers issues such as levels of income – with the report calling on the government to focus on ‘Fair Work’ arguing that targeted specialist programmes for women can help support entry into better quality jobs.
From Engage Renfrewshire’s position we would highlight that volunteering can also provide an opportunity to enhance an individual’s career prospects. At Engage we believe that volunteering to support social activities can, of course, demonstrate an individual’s commitment and passion but it can also quickly increase the volunteer’s skills and knowledge. It can also provide a ‘window’ into a career – allowing volunteers to see other worlds of work and what skills they may require.
So, - I finish with a simple ask - if you’re an organisation that can provide an interesting, career developing, volunteering opportunity please #ChooseToChallenge, avoid the potential stereotype of the role you have to offer, and be committed to a gender equal world.
Should you require any further guidance with role development and/or ensuring your organisation supports an accessible and inclusive approach to volunteering please get in touch with our Volunteer Development Officer