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#PressforProgress on International Women’s Day

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International Women’s Day is held on March 8th every year to celebrate, remember and recognise the incredible social, cultural, economic and political achievements of women while campaigning for gender equality.

Although much progress have been made in our recent times, the issue of gender inequality still exists globally. The UN estimates that women around the world make 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, for the equal amount of work. Female representation across global parliamentary seats is still under 25% and this gap continues to plague the ongoing challenges facing many women in conditions resulting from disproportionate poverty and a lack of education and access to healthcare. Professionally, women are continuing to address a fair seat in senior management and leadership levels. The chronic underrepresentation of women in management is a key driver of the gender pay gap and this is not merely a women’s issue anymore. Male championship for change plays a huge role and economically, businesses and communities can benefit from better listening and learning to create change in the system.

The good news is there is growing recognition that women’s rights affect us all and we need to strive for more female representation at all levels of business and society. Speaking at a World Economic Forum in Davos this year, Jack Ma, co-founder of Alibaba Group, said women are the secret of a business’s success. He was quoted “If you want your company to be successful, if you want your company to operate with wisdom, with care, then women are the best… part of the “secret sauce” of our success is because we have so many women colleagues”.

Ascender is a huge champion of gender diversity. We believe it produces real benefits in the workplace as we help our customers across the Asia-Pacific region to manage their payroll and human resource requirements through our technology and solutions, we see firsthand the power of diversity in driving innovation, positive financial returns, higher employee engagement and turnover reduction. Diversity allows every business to resonate with a wider customer base and this concept continues to be a strong motivator for our brand.

In line with International Women’s Day 2018 #pressforprogress theme, we encourage our employees globally, starting with many nominated female team members across our regional offices, to share their pledge this year to definitive actions to live, breathe, and drive this cause beyond a single day.

Celebrating International Women’s Day does not have to involve big political or only public gestures. You can take up simple steps that have prevailing effects such as:

Read compelling books by women such as:

  • Difficult Women by Roxane Gay, a short story collection about the challenges facing women in Modern America
  • Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, a novel set in 1930s Korea and Japan detailing the struggles of a family in poverty
  • Everfair by Nisi Shawl, an alternate history/science fiction novel set in the Belgian Congo, especially an enjoyable read in a genre traditionally dominated by men

Celebrate women in film:

  • 13th directed by Ava DuVernay, a strong documentary taking a critical look at the prison system in America, linking it to slavery and deeply embedded racism
  • Hidden Figures, with Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae in leading roles, this film brings to life the untold story of a trio of female NASA scientists who helped launch the first American astronaut into space
  • Trapped, directed by Sian Melton, a documentary that examines the TRAP laws in the US which make it extremely difficult for abortion clinics to operate in certain states and offers a pragmatic look at reproductive rights and the impact of these laws have on women

Attend a women’s networking event or consider volunteering as a mentor, or speaker to share your knowledge:

Donate to your local women’s refuge or charity that empowers future generations, especially for young girls:

Watch empowering TED Talks by women:

Ultimately, International Women’s Day spurs us to think of better ways we can change our present and future to share its many positive benefits across societies. This is not a single country, group, organisation or business specific. This day and cause belong to everyone collectively everywhere.

#pressforprogress as a unified direction asks for your participation to form this joint global effort. Find your unique way to learn, embrace International Women’s Day and initiative your step to share the responsibility for driving gender parity.

As the inspiring Malala Yousafzai said “We cannot all succeed, when half of us are held back”. So, what will your pledge be this year?

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