International Women’s Month: In Praise of All Women!

Written by Stephanie

March 14, 2023

Maya Angelou, the American authoress, popular poetess and civil rights activist, had this to say about being a woman: “A woman in harmony with her spirit is like a river flowing. She goes where she will without pretense and arrives at her destination prepared to be herself and herself only.”


This article is an ode to the spirit of Angelou’s words. It is also a celebration of International Women’s Month, which coincides with International Women’s Day, held annually on March 8th. We’ll look at how women are succeeding and why it remains important to keep honouring women for what they contribute.

Women in Business

Women have been in business for a long time. Assyrian clay tablets dating back to 1870 BC and excavated in what is modern-day northern Iraq attest to history’s first-known businesswomen, female bankers and female investors. In 1766, Mary Katherine Goddard became the first female book publisher in America and iconic French designer Coco Chanel opened her first boutique in 1913. The early pioneers!


There’s even the incredible story of Eliza Lucas. Born in Antigua and raised in South Carolina, Lucas would go on to found a company that made high-quality blue indigo dye. The dye was in such high demand in England that it became South Carolina’s second-largest export crop after rice. She was so influential, that when she died in 1793, no less than US president George Washington was one of her pallbearers!


Business schools and major corporations acknowledge that having gender diversity in the workplace is actually good for business. That’s because women offer different life perspectives that can challenge male-dominated thinking and ways of doing business. In 2022, IKEA India, Orange in France and KLM Dutch Airlines were just a few of the major companies that appointed female CEOs for the first time.

Women in Power

Women have also been making strides in politics for some time now. It was July 1960 when Sirimavo Bandaranaike, , of what was then Ceylon (modern-day Sri Lanka), became the first democratically-elected female Prime Minister of a country. Other female heads of state and government that followed included India’s Indira Gandhi (1966), Isabel Perón of Argentina (1974), Elisabeth Domitien of the Central African Republic (1975) and the UK’s Margaret Thatcher (1979).


According to UN Women, 19 out of 193 countries had women as heads of government as of January 1st 2023. That is an increase from a decade ago.

Then there are those countries with more women than men as cabinets ministers, led by Albania    with 66.7% female representation, followed by Finland (64.3%) and Spain (63.6%). Chile, Belgium and Mozambique also have cabinets with female compositions exceeding 55%.


And just look at the countries currently led by heads of state or government leaders that are women: Nepal, Taiwan, Serbia, Singapore, Iceland, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Ethiopia, Georgia, Moldova, Kosovo, Slovakia, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Togo, Lithuania, Estonia, Tanzania, Samoa, Tunisia, Barbados, Honduras, Hungary, France, Italy, India, Peru, Slovenia and Bosnia & Herzegovina. Not too shabby!

The Need To Celebrate International Women’s Month

March 19th 1911 marked the first International Women’s Day held in Austria, Germany, Denmark and Switzerland. However, it was only in 1975 that the United Nations finally sanctioned International Women’s Day (IWD). The day is actually recognized as an official national holiday in Armenia, Belarus, Cambodia, Cuba, Georgia, Laos, Mongolia, Montenegro, Russia, Uganda, Ukraine and Vietnam.


However, even with all the breakthroughs and triumphs in politics and business, the need to uplift women remains as strong as ever. Women are still battling in today’s world on many scores. For example, the UN estimates that women make up 70% of the 1.3 billion in the world living in abject poverty. It’s even been found that the COVID-19 pandemic hit women harder than men worldwide. Even in business, women may be breaking through barriers like never before, but they still only comprise about 9% of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.


That is why the official theme of this year’s IWD is so relevant: #EmbraceEquity. Women’s rights activists have realized that fighting for equality is simply not enough. There also needs to be a fight for equity in recognition that even among women there is not equal opportunities.

The Self-Employed Yiper!

Nevertheless, things are looking up for many women. For one thing, more women than ever are launching their own businesses. Women-owned businesses in the US have increased 74% in the past 20 years, far higher than the rate of increase for male-owned businesses. More women are finding that entrepreneurship is the way for them to forge careers and find success  on their own terms.


We know for a fact that many of our women instructors on Yip (our beloved ‘Yipers!’) feel just that way! Even the male-dominated world of search engine optimisation (SEO) is seeing increasing numbers of women excelling in the field. In case you’re not sure, SEO is basically the way in which webpages are optimised so that people can find them ‘organically’ when doing searches online.


Well, more and more women are becoming SEO experts. There’s even a dedicated online community of female SEO professionals, the aim of which is to, “empower each other in a positive, inspiring and beneficial way, and to help build our network and accelerate our careers.” It’s networks like that, especially in previously ultra-male fields such as technology, that are allowing women to realize their potential in their careers with greater ease – and support.


We think you’d agree that we have so many reasons to celebrate women! Not only do they educate and nurture their families, but they are often the true pioneers in society. Women deserve both equality and equity. In the end, the world itself deserves no less, right!


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