Each year on International Women’s Day, women and men around the world reflect on how to honor the contributions of women and provide greater opportunities for them.
This year, a new element has been added to this day of global acknowledgment – a call for women to raise their voices as a collective on a whole array of issues that will affect not only our lives but the lives of our children and grandchildren well into the future. In some places, this call is taking the form of a women’s strike – a Day Without Women – to demonstrate the role women play in our society. What would a day without women in the workplace, in the homes, shops, schools and universities look like? We could not function as a society if women were to truly abstain.
Why do women feel the need now to come together as a collective? Perhaps it is because what we have long taken for granted as a nation now feels threatened. Perhaps it is the voices of women that can remind us of the need to respect and care for the human diversity that has given our country its unique character. Perhaps it is the voices of women that can remind us of the need for ethics and civility in our public life, which are essential for our communal well-being.
The movement that is gathering, not exclusive to women but led by women, by design is not focused on a single issue. It is about our collective future, the kind of world we want to leave to our children. It is about affordable healthcare, quality education, clean water, and air, restored ecosystems, respect for diversity, an inclusive economy and a rising above partisanship to work together for our collective future.
Finn Partners has long been an advocate for women’s leadership and issues. Our work has spanned the gamut of topics from stopping domestic abuse, preventing sexual assault, breast cancer awareness, gender equality in the workplace, financial freedom for women, helping widows of war set up businesses, enabling women in conflict areas to engage in peace dialogues, etc. For several decades, we have been deeply involved in finding new ways to advance these issues. Working in partnership with corporations, foundations, non-profits and international institutions, we have developed communications platforms that have helped to mainstream many of these topics, changing attitudes and perceptions. Issues that affect women have long resonated with the core mission of Finn Partners, which is to help organizations advance their own well-being by contributing to the public good.
While many advances have been made, there is still a long road to travel, even here in the US. Nearly 20 years ago when I was organizing a large interreligious summit at the United Nations, I happened to mention to a religious leader that I was having trouble finding women religious leaders to participate in the summit. His remark startled me. “Why do you need to find women, religious leaders,” he asked in a perturbed voice. “Well, we are half the population,” I replied. At that time the aim of women was to advance their careers and seek higher positions in their chosen arenas. While this is still important, today it is no longer enough. What women’s voices are now demanding is to claim our stake in the future. Women must share in determining which road the human community will travel.