Viewpoint - Women’s Day

International Women’s Day falls on 8 March. Claire Ronald explains why it’s so important

This Saturday is International Women’s Day.

It’s an occasion for looking back on past struggles and accomplishments.  

More importantly, it is a chance to look ahead at the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women.  

As I think about this potential I look at how unrepresented women are in the very professional fields in which we dominate.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s 2011 Sex and Power report tells us that women make up 51 per cent of the British population and girls are routinely outperforming boys at both school and university.

Though well-qualified women are entering the labour market in increasing numbers, as well as populating the ranks of middle management, these changes are not yet reflected in the senior ranks.

Within the NHS only one health trust chief executive in three is a woman.

While this rate might seem reasonably high, you have to remember that, according to the King’s Fund, 80 per cent of the non-medical workforce is female.  

Norway imposed a 40 per cent quota for women on corporate boards as the result of studies that showed that the more women there are at the top of a company the better its financial performance, see Retaining top women business leaders

Would the NHS benefit from a similar scheme?

And as we look beyond the UK the problems encountered by women become starker and more frightening.  
Women make up more than 50 per cent of the global population, but fill less than 20 per cent of all parliamentary seats.

Is that why we see women accounting for 70 per cent of the population living in absolute poverty (on less than $1 (US dollar) a day). And why globally girls are less likely to reach adulthood because of gender discrimination.

Tens of millions of girls have been aborted, killed, undernourished, or terribly neglected due to their gender.

Hopefully, this column will encourage you to reflect and find out what’s happening in your area to celebrate the day.

For more information, visit the International Women's day website

Clare Ronald is a CSP senior negotiating officer

Claire Ronald

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