International Women’s Day, March 8th, is just around the corner. This could not be a better time to celebrate how far we’ve come and reflect on how much further we need to go. As women’s healthcare providers, this is when we should be thinking about how we can get involved in improving the future for all women, while paying tribute to the women in our past who have made it possible for us to do what we do.

History has shown that we work best when we work together. This is the time to unite to fight for common causes. The 2018 international Women’s Day campaign theme is #Pressforprogress, sure it sounds catchy, but what does it mean?

This year’s theme is all about gender parity. Unfortunately the recent Global Gender Gap Report shows that we are way behind where we need to be. Every year this report looks at 144 countries to see how they are doing with gender parity progress in terms of economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment. The shocker (or maybe not…) here is that despite technology keeping us all close, and there being immense amounts of passion, momentum, and global activism, we are actually regressing when it comes to gender parity. Yup, the gender gap is widening. It is now estimated that it will take precisely 217 years for us to reach gender parity. Certain areas are doing better than others. The gender gap in health and education is closing, but in politics and the workforce we are way behind. Research has shown that women leaders hire more women, so one step forward would be for us all to work to put more women in leadership positions.

We can use International Women’s Day as a reminder for us to start important conversations with our friends, family, and even strangers even when this may be uncomfortable at times. Many of us know people who are in positions to hire and award promotions in their companies or organizations. By working together to raise awareness on the lack of progress with gender parity in the work force, we can hopefully motivate others to look at appointing more women into leadership positions.

International Women’s Day is not really about one day, or one organization. This is a year-long movement that organizations and people from all over the world can take part in. Every year March 8th marks the day that the International Women’s Day campaign kicks off. There are events being hosted around the world that can be attended either in person or virtually. You can start the year off right by finding out what is available in your area.

It is easy to get excited and amped up about making change when there are worldwide events such as this. The harder part is keeping the momentum going and continuing to fight throughout the year when the rest of life gets in the way. However, with the gap widening, we cannot afford to lose sight of how crucial this is. As women’s healthcare providers we are in unique positions when it comes to understanding the disparities that women face in life. We can use our expertise to not just start conversations, but get involved in local, statewide, and national organizations that advocate for gender parity throughout the year. The key here is to not get complacent and think that our sisters have us covered when we’re not advocating, because the truth is that this is about every single one of us. We can only achieve gender parity when we all put in our individual effort to work as a team.

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