International Women’s Day was originally a day to highlight inequality in our world. There are still inequalities in workload, power, pay and health, although the feminist movement has made some headway in addressing the balance. At times it seems as though the fight for equality has led to a kind of homogenisation – to succeed, a woman must think like a man – but equal does not have to mean the same. Rather than emphasising the areas we still need to change, this Women’s Day, let’s celebrate the women who are already making changes.
Every year, Triodos Bank holds the Women in Ethical Business Awards. These awards recognise women who work in ways that are profitable AND socially responsible. Last year’s nominees included Heather Gardener-Masoud, who along with Cathi Pawson set up Zaytoun to export fairly traded produce from Palestine, creating 1 million income for Palestine, with a turnover of £444,288, and with 3 employees.
Also nominated was Anne McCaig, CEO of Café Direct, which has a positive impact on 1.4million people worldwide. More than half the company’s profits are invested back into the growers, creating sustainability, profitability, and opportunity that benefits everyone.
Carry Somers gave up her PhD to set up Pachacuti, a fashion line that employs 6 people in Britain and creates income for over 300 people in Peru; supporting co-operatives, community groups, and mothers’ groups.
Women supporting – celebrating – women; that’s what International Women’s Day should be about.