Tim Glynne-Jones

Mar 12, 2024, 8:00 AM

International Women’s Day – What does it mean to you?

On International Women’s Day, we asked Action Planning Associate Consultants how the day resonated with them. Here’s what they said. 

Claire Smith

Claire Smith Photo.jpg

“I’ll never forget meeting Kai Rae, in rural Cambodia. We sat, drinking strong coffee, in her small mud-walled home and she beamed as she showed me her books. I was on a reporting assignment for a charity which ran literacy classes for women. Growing up in poverty, Kai Rae had never had the opportunity go to school. But thanks to the charity, she’d learned to read – and it opened up a whole world. 

“Now, Kai Rae can help her children with homework, get a fair price for the food she grows, buy the right medication when the family is ill. Literacy has grown her confidence and self-esteem. It’s truly life-changing. So when I think of International Women’s Day, and this year’s focus, ‘Invest in women, accelerate progress,’ I think of women like Kai Rae. And I celebrate the amazing work done by so many charities to empower women who’ve been left behind.”


Victoria Fafalios

Victoria-F.jpg“As someone who is passionate about women’s health, taking women’s health issues more seriously would be a huge step in accelerating progress – whether that’s menopausal issues in the workplace, which thankfully is talked about much more openly now, or gynae cancers such ovarian cancer, referred to as the silent killer as symptoms so often go undetected, yet has higher death rates than breast cancer.”


Shalini Jain

Shalini Jain - Pic.jpg“The slogan 'Invest in women; accelerate progress’ truly resonates with me. It is a very positive slogan which underlines the value of women in the progress story of a nation, society and world at large. A woman conceives, protects and nourishes. Educate a man and you just educate a man; educate a woman and you educate the whole family. Investing in women's rights is accelerating the growth of a family, society and world.”


Emma Insley

action-planning_emma-insley_associate-consultant.jpg“Yes! Let’s in invest in women to accelerate progress. But it must be a gender-appropriate investment; women aren’t just men with breasts! We need a different kind of investment – we need investment in childcare and genuinely flexible working. We need recognition that our monthly cycles can impact how we perform, and we need menopause policies that accommodate for changes to how we function in midlife. We need investment into women’s only leadership programmes to share our stories in a safe way and be lifted up by other women. And we really need our workplaces, homes, streets and schools to be a safe space for women and girls! When these things are in place – and probably many more – then we really will be able to accelerate progress. AND WE WILL BE MAGNIFICENT!”


Naomi Buckler

Naomi-Buckler-Headshot-web.jpg“Part of me thinks, 'We don't need a special day, thank you very much!' but sometimes it is good to stop and consider and say thank you. I say thank you for the women's mentoring and networking course that I did very early in my career, which really opened my eyes to what was possible, and the need to set career goals and objectives. Well done, Lloyds Bank, for investing in me then – it has paid huge dividends – and completely revolutionised the way I approached work. If you know a woman who simply doesn't realise her potential, invest some time in showing her what she can achieve if she sets her sights high!”


Ruth Mulryne


“That we still need a day to inspire conversations and action makes me feel sad and frustrated, yet it is meaningful to so many women across the globe still fighting for gender equality and women's rights. So celebrating women and using IWD for the biggest noise possible I will always support. But I want every day to see women able to access brilliant opportunities, to be supported positively by EVERYONE around them, to proudly be themselves, to know their voice is heard and see their achievements championed and celebrated. We each have a responsibility to invest our time in each other, include and not exclude, the women we connect with. It will make innovation and brilliant decision making guaranteed and accelerate all our ambitions.

“To the women around me who are inspiring, supportive, determined, real, often tired(!) but forever looking forward, don't stop!”


Clare Mcintosh

Clare-Mcintosh.jpg“It's important to recognise how the charity sector is leading the way in empowering women's leadership abilities. While women remain underrepresented as CEOs in the private sector (at just 8%), nearly two-thirds of UK charity CEOs are female. This discrepancy highlights how the success in the non-profit world benefits from the empathy, emotional intelligence, resilience and unwavering drive that allows so many women to thrive as visionary founders and leaders dedicated to enacting positive change. As pioneers like Camila Batmanghelidjh, Anya Hindmarch and Gemma Stevenson exemplify, the charity sector enthusiastically embraces women's unique perspectives and talents to identify and tackle societal issues in meaningful ways.”


Anja Batist-Sonksen

Anja Sonksen photo.jpg“‘When women rise, we all rise’ is what one of my favourite charities, The Vavengers, always says. It's so true. I have also found that remembering this aspect in fundraising communication appeals to women, who are proven to be very loyal supporters, keen to make sustainable choices when donating. Win-win!”


Sarah Divina

sarah Divina.jpeg“For me, International Women's Day is a reminder to do what we should all be doing for each other every day – celebrating the things we achieve, the challenges we overcome and for showing up. It's just one of an unlimited number of opportunities to support and empower one another. It's also a chance to acknowledge those that make space for us and support us to be unapologetically ourselves and to honour our needs.”.


Felicia Willow


“The charity sector is far from a leader when it comes to equality. In a sector quite rightly criticised as being #charitysowhite, the sector is also male dominated at the top. This IWD, if the charity sector is going to ‘invest in women, accelerate progress’, we need to take our diversity obligations a lot more seriously.

“Despite women making up more than two-thirds of charity employees, only one third of the largest 100 charities by income have a woman CEO, and men Trustees still outnumber women two-to-one. My work delivering governance reviews highlights that the Charity Governance Code pillar of Diversity is the area of worst performance across the sector. Boards need to identify and break down all the barriers to inclusion so that women – and those with intersecting identities – can participate. Only then will we accelerate progress.”


Dawn Ray

Dawn-Ray-square.jpg“Having developed my early career through an era where I encountered several glass ceilings, International Women’s Day is a good one to pause and ask if, in 2024, it has yet been broken? Whilst during that time I have seen two women Prime Ministers come and go (at different rates!), and a number of women succeed in leading businesses, it often feels that their recognition and publicity is often more a result of what they do outside of the workplace rather than in it! So it could be argued that the ceiling has cracked rather than been broken. More worryingly, as we all live longer and want or even need to work longer too, older women, with experiences that way outstrip the younger and often deemed more affordable, technology savvy generations, are also facing new prejudices to work. For there to be continued progress for all women in the workplace, there is still seemingly a need for people to be more open-minded.”


Joy Gascoigne

Joy Gascoigne - Photo.JPG

“I love Max Lucado’s story, You Are Special. It’s about the Wemmicks, small wooden people, all different but each owning a box of shiny golden star stickers and a box of grey dot stickers. Every day they gave each other stickers. Those who were attractive, intelligent, or successful were given star stickers, while those who made mistakes, had chipped paint, or scratches were given dot stickers. After a time, it seemed everyone was covered in stickers, including Punchinello. He had more dots than stickers; in fact, he was close to breaking point from the weight of everything he was carrying. But then he met Lucia. Lucia was different. She had no stars and no dots but remained shiny and bright, original and new, uncluttered by stickers. “What’s your secret?” Punchinello ventured to ask. Lucia’s answer was simple: “Every day I go to see Eli, who made us. When I’m there all the stickers fall off, they just don’t matter any longer.”

I love IWD. It’s about a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. A world where stickers fall off and just don’t matter any longer?


Clare Bamberger


“After all the performative nonsense, token gestures, PR opportunities and bandwagon jumping of 8th March has died down, let’s have a look at how the world functions for women. I read a heartfelt tribute by a man, written no doubt with the very best of intentions. It’s all about celebrating women for the way they have supported him.  And there you have it. The underlying assumptions which are the basis of how most countries, economies institutions, companies, even households are run. Policies do not treat women as equal, budget decisions are not thought through as to how they affect women, let alone other disadvantaged groups.

 “We believed that educating girls was one of the best ways to achieve equality, or even equity. It hasn’t led to either though – overall women start out with the same, or even better, qualifications at work but we are still held back by attitudes and especially by policies and laws.  The media, the film industry (look up the Bechdel test), TV, advertising, the press all tend to portray women in certain ways. There’s the “mini-man” – the strong woman; the “carer”, the “victim” – oh you know how many there are. And sometimes, just sometimes, we see a woman or group of women shown on their own terms without reference to men. We need more.

 “Changes in laws and policies can lead slowly, slowly to changes in attitudes. in the UK it’s only a hundred years since a woman could vote, only 50 years since a women could get a credit card, a bank account or a mortgage in her own name (!). Think about that, my own mother would not have been able to be independent financially, without a man to vouch for her, until she was in her forties.

 “We need to speed up the policies and laws that can lead to equity that can lead to justice because leading to changes in attitudes takes time. To adapt the quote attributed to Mahatma Ghandi: ‘Change policies as if you were to die tomorrow. Campaign as if you were to live forever’.”

So what does IWD mean to you? You can post your comments here.


Tim Glynne-Jones

Tim Glynne-Jones is a copywriter and author who runs the not-for-profit live music events organisation New Music Nights as a volunteer. He works mainly in marketing and non-fiction book publishing and is responsible for content at Action Planning.

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