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How we celebrated IWD 2021 across all of March

The Inspiring Team
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Last editedApr 20213 min read

Here at GoCardless we chose to extend the celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD) 2021 across the whole month of March.

The official UN theme for IWD 2021 - #ChooseToChallenge - is very pertinent. Challenging gender biases and inequalities, and remembering to celebrate the successes of our women is something we can all stand behind. Internally at GoCardless, we have an employee resource group, called Inspiring, focused on exactly that. And it was us in the Inspiring group that took charge and got busy planning the events for the month:

Choosing to challenge

Encouraged by the official IWD website, we wanted to show support and solidarity for the #ChooseToChallenge theme. Across the company, various GeeCees raised their hand, or their selfie card, and pledged to help forge a gender equal world.

Sharing songs that empower

Music can be an incredibly powerful medium. So we created a Spotify playlist and asked everyone to add a song that makes them feel empowered. If you want to hear the tunes that make GeeCees feel most empowered, you can check out the playlist here.

Binging great women-led media

Roughly half the world is female. But in many key roles in the film and TV industry, significantly less than half are women. With COVID-19 keeping us homebound and glued to screens like never before, one of the ways we celebrated IWD was by rounding up more than 30 of our favourite women-led media into a company-wide recommendations list.

Listening to two incredible women

We heard from two powerful speakers. Claire Waxman, London's first Victims Commissioner, who is fighting the misconceptions around victims of crime and giving them the support they deserve. And campaigner Gina Martin, an activist known for making upskirting illegal in England and Wales.

These incredible women turned their personal experiences into a force that drove a change in the law - they battled the legal system not designed for them to win. Their speeches were both a revelation and a call to action for women and allies alike.

International Women's Day 2021 - Gina Martin and Claire Waxman

A game of bingo that supported a women-empowering social enterprise

We ran a game of bingo across the whole of March, with tiles designed around gender equality. All the eager engagement from GeeCees helped us support Luminary Bakery here in London.

International Women's Day 2021 - Bingo

Shouting out a few of the incredible women of GoCardless

We’re fortunate to work with a wide array of brilliant women all around us at GoCardless. We have more women in leadership positions than before, we have examples of women leading the charge - driving international growth, opening new offices, winning deals, building products and writing code, often whilst parenting and doing care work.

We wanted to ring the bell loud and clear, and celebrate a few of these women more publicly: Rachel Horvelin, Beccy Rudland, and Nanna Saito Nielsen.

Giving women a platform

For some of us at GoCardless, many of our recurring meetings can be led by, or saturated with, male voices. So in March we encouraged female voices to take the opportunity to lead. We did a women-led takeover of the company-wide town hall meeting to drive the message across.

It was incredible to see how much positive discussion came from these sessions, with people joining in and sharing content. We learned about gendered language, intersectional feminism, and gender fluidity. We heard from our female colleagues how it feels to be the 'only' woman in the room. We also touched upon topics typically considered more sensitive in the workplace, such as endometriosis and sexual harassment.

A long way to go

The history of IWD goes back over a century, when women started being vocal about gender inequality. More than a century on, the theme of IWD remains as relevant as ever. With the public health, societal, and economic shock from COVID yet to be fully known, the global pandemic reverses the progress on gender equality. Women are more likely to have lower paid jobs, carry a higher burden of frontline and care work, and be subject to unemployment and increased domestic violence.

The subject of violence against women is painfully pertinent right now in London, with the horrifying events around Sarah Everard’s disappearance and murder. It’s generated spontaneous self-organisation into a separate initiative here at GoCardless, aiming to help reduce gender-based violence.

Gender inequality at large is an intersectional issue. The effects of race, sexuality, class, and more cannot be ignored. But we can make a change together. Here at GoCardless, we are united across our BEAM, Rainbow, and Inspiring employee resource groups. We are united not just as women, but as male allies as well. March has had significant ups and downs for all of us here at GoCardless, with an outpouring of both support and vulnerability. But we aim to keep pushing for gender equality - every single month of the year.

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