UW Combined Fund Drive

March 1, 2021

Choose to Challenge this International Women’s Day

Contributed by Noam Soker, UWCFD Intern

International Women’s Day, celebrated March 8, marks a time to celebrate the achievements made by girls and women. We highlight the progress made and reflect on how women’s rights have changed.

International Women’s Day reminds us that women’s right are human rights and gender parity uplifts all. This day represents a journey, a process of celebrating the past, being inspired to take action today, and working toward a better future.

The 2021 theme for International Women’s Day is “Choose to Challenge”[1], a fitting reminder that there is much more work to be done. Today, women are leaving the workforce at startling rates, up to four times the rate of men[2].

Of the many reasons for this regression away from gender parity, it is notable that the industry’s most affect by the pandemic are predominantly female. Furthermore, there is a disproportionate effect on women of color who have experienced far higher unemployment rates compared to white men[3]. This year reminds us that there are glass siloes: entire industries dominated by men with barriers to opportunity for women.

However, we also celebrate the shattering of glass ceilings and uplifting of a gender. In 1992 and 2018, election results paved way for the headline “Year of the Woman”. In 2020, the United States elected the first women to Vice President. As Vice President Kamala Harris reflected in her acceptance speech,

“While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last…And to the children of our country, regardless of your gender, our country has sent you a clear message; dream with ambition. Lead with conviction.”

With those words, we can take action to support ambitious dreams and foster leaders with conviction. Consider the following suggestions to help support women.

  • Take stock of your space: Are there women at the tables you occupy whose voices are being heard and respected? Step up to advocate for yourself and make way for new voices.
  • Respect space and engage in supportive partnerships: allyship cannot be forced. Listen and respect what people around you need. Show that you are available and ready to support.
  • Recognize, advocate, and encourage: learn about female leaders, explorers, and creators. Give credit to all contributors. Advocate for more equality. Encourage the next generation to choose to challenge, shatter, and uplift everyone.

If you are able, please consider supporting the following organizations:

Alene Moris Women’s Center at UW
The UW Alene Moris Women’s Center is a catalyst for change. We disrupt cycles of oppression and break down gender-based barriers through transformational education programs, leadership development, and advocacy for girls and womxn. We believe womxn’s rights are human rights. Programs and services are open to all students, staff, faculty and community members.

ANEW: Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Employment for Women
The mission of ANEW is to prepare women to enter and progress in the building trades by providing outreach, recruitment education, and retention services.

Dress For Success Worldwide
Dress for Success is an international non-profit organization that promotes the economic independence of women through professional attire, career development, and employment retention programs.

Girl Scouts of Western Washington
Leadership development program for girls 5-17, helping them develop courage, confidence and character through diverse activities including camping, financial literacy, nature study and community service.

IGNITE Worldwide
IGNITE dismantles the myths and stereotypes girls have about technology careers by connecting them with women technology professionals. IGNITE’s unique model works within the schools, with active involvement by the Career and Technical Education teachers. The IGNITE model is scalable and reproducible, with a written set of tools that can be used in starting and administering the program in any school.

The Justice for Girls Coalition of Washington State
The Justice for Girls* Coalition builds public will and community investment in innovation policies and practices that impact girls in Washington state.
* “Girls” refers to gender expansive youth (cis girls, trans girls, non-binary youth, gender non-conforming youth, gender queer youth and any girl-identified youth).

Mary’s Place Seattle
Empowering homeless women, children and families to reclaim their lives by providing shelter, nourishment, resources, healing and hope in a safe community.

Catalyst: Workplaces that Work for Women drives change with pioneering research, practical tools, and proven solutions to accelerate and advance women into leadership—because progress for women is progress for everyone.​

[1] InternationalWomensDay.com

[2] Schneider, A., Hsu, A. & Horsley, S. (Oct 2, 2020). “Multiple Demands Causing Women To Abandon Workforce.” NPR. https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/10/02/919517914/enough-already-multiple-demands-causing-women-to-abandon-workforce

[3] Potts, K. (Oct 2, 2020). “Economic Progress Stalls for Women”. Institute for Women’s Policy Research. https://iwpr.org/media/press-releases/economic-progress-stalls-for-women/