International Women’s Day

Women from all over the world are coming together today to share their voices through the recognition of International Women’s Day (IWD), as a moment to spotlight the issues and challenges women face in addressing gender equality. I realised this week that I wasn’t familiar with the history of what is now a globally recognised day and thought I’d take a look back at the origins of the movement.

The emergence of IWD dates back to 1908 when 15,000 women came together to march through New York City to campaign for shorter working hours, equal pay and voting rights. It was at a time of significant change for not just America, but a global recognition and building pressure to make change and ensure women had equal rights to men in areas that today we often take for granted.

In 1910 Copenhagen hosted a conference for 100 women from 17 countries, including the first three women to be elected into the Finnish Government. The key result from the conference was to formally adopt IWD as an annual day of celebration. Not long after, on the eve of WW1, Russia celebrated its first IWD on the last Sunday in February 1913 and back in the UK on the 8th March 1914, Sylvia Pankhurst was arrested on her way to speak at a protest in support of women’s suffrage in Trafalgar Square. These were all important steps in the fight for women’s rights and while the areas being campaigned for may have changed over the last 100 years, it’s frustrating to see that some things have remained the same – such as equal pay and gender equality within the workplace.

Regardless of what sector you work within, many women still face struggles for equality. These vary greatly across the world but it’s powerful to consider what change YOU could make today, tomorrow or next week – within your workplace, community or industry. For those that have been following the evolution of Women In Tourism (WIT) you’ll know that we’ve only just started. While our ambitions may be slightly different to our courageous female predecessors, the evolution of WIT is built on a similar ethos. To create a platform for discussion – for the passionate women within the Scottish tourism sector to come together; to have a voice; and to advocate for change. How can women within our sector reach a position of leadership; what skills do we need to build to enable us to achieve that; and how can we harness the encyclopedic knowledge and passion of the women within our industry?

This is particularly true this month, as our industry celebrates Scottish Tourism Week (STW). WIT is very much still an acorn; a seed of an idea. We are hosting our very first event on March 17th in Edinburgh at the EICC as part of the STW Signature Programme. This is YOUR opportunity to come along and help us define the future for WIT. What do WE, as passionate and empowered women want to achieve and CHANGE?

We’re proud to be part of International Women’s Day.

Susan Russell – Chair of Women In Tourism