Today, 8 March, is International Womens Day where women and their achievements are celebrated all over the world. It has been observed since the early 1900s annually with lots of events taking place – political rallies, business conferences, government activitie and networking events that inspire women. The battle for emancipation and equality began in the early 1900s and us women have come a long way since then with female astronauts and prime ministers. Women are accepted in all walks of life, they can choose to go to university, work and have a family at at the same time.
Today there are more women in the boardroom, greater equality with legislative rights and women visible as impressive role models everywhere. However, women are still not paid equally to that of men despite the introduction of the Equal Pay Act in 1970 and globally women’s education, health and violence against them is worse than that of men. Furthermore we still have a long way to go to smash the infamous glass ceiling that continues to exist in the UK.
A recent report published by Counting Women In entitled Sex and Power: Who Runs Britain claims that women’s grip on positions of power in politics and public life is slipping away. It has covered evidence that women are losing representation across politics, the judiciary, police, media and other areas. In the police 90 percent of police constables and police crime commissioners are men; 2/3 of local councillors are male.
Other statistics show:
- · UK women have slipped from 33rd to 57th place since 2001 in international power rankings
- · 22.5% of MPs are women
- · 17.4% of the Cabinet are women
- · 11.1% of UK bank CEOs are women
- · 5% of Editors of national daily newspapers are women
Apparently France has the greatest number of women board directors. There representation has been boosted by quota legisation. This has also vastly improved women board representation in Norway, Spain, the Netherlands, Iceland, Italy and Belgium.
Other countries use other systems to raise the number of board seats. Finland introduced gender and board diversity in its corporate governance code.
However China, the United States and Japan do not have proactive strategies and have the lowest percentage increase in women board members.
A European draft directive is calling for a minimum 40% female non executive directors on the boards of listed companies with 250 or more employees by 2020. Currently 85% of European non-exec board members and 91% of executive board members are men.
However, the UK is opposed to using quotas claiming that diversity is improving of its own accord. Ministers have called upon firms to aim to have one woman director for every three man by 2015.
So women in the UK please celebrate International Women’s Day. Do your bit to ensure that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding. Make a difference!