on the corporate conscience: International Women’s Day

This Saturday, March 8, 2008 is International Women’s Day, and it’s inspiring to learn that there are currently 564 International Women’s Day events listed from 50 different countries. From luncheons to conferences, from coffee & cake affairs to large extravagant galas across Canada – there are festivities celebrating this positive movement. Often there are companies/organizations attached to these events – and on the IWD website is very comprehensive list of those actively involved. Under TOP COMPANIES SUPPORTING WOMEN & IWD, they have listed HSBC, Deloitte, and Cisco, as their top global corporate supporters stating:

“They provide strong corporate leadership and social responsibility in actively developing and advancing female talent.”

Also mentioned were the following:

IWD Toronto Committee

The Government of Ontario
The Government of Saskatchewan
The Government of Alberta

The Women’s Radio Fund in Vancouver

Outside of this list there are many other bodies making IWD their top priority including Scotia Bank and Yves Rocher – it’s a union that speaks volumes. I have a huge amount of respect for organizations and corporations that can ‘move with the times’ and realize the importance of giving back. That said, the more the public demands this progressive social conscience – the more they will have to comply.

In three years it will be the International Women’s Day Centenary – it’s encouraging to know that some organizations have already started planning special events for that occasion!


6 thoughts on “on the corporate conscience: International Women’s Day

  1. chipper HO says:

    ill be attending…hopefully…
    the BEV film festival in LONDON UK…

    its interesting to have a gendered occasion eh…
    even more interesting to conceive of a female space…
    could there be such a thing…do you know what i mean??

    hmm for some reason lilith fair comes to mind…
    for women w women…

    i dont know…
    theres something back-tracked about such events/activities/celebrations
    it bothers me…

    as you may know staffeen…
    my proj is focused on acknowledgin/challengin gender constructs…

    your blog today…
    has left me confused and troubled 😦

  2. staffeen thompson says:

    Absolutely I can see this ‘space’ happening! It’s a must. I think it’s difficult for some to appreciate it fully because we are living with the benefits of what nearly ‘100 years of progress’ has provided. Yet there are still parts of the world still living in the dark ages, and who refuse to advance.

    With that notion, it’s only been in the past few years that corporations have started to realize that supporting these events publicly and consistently is a part of their duty/responsibility. If you have a chance to watch ‘The Corporation’, please do, it is a very dynamic social commentary.

    A fantastic example to highlight is the ALWAYS campaign, that donates a portion of their proceeds of maxi pads, to girls in Africa who cannot attend school every month (and often fall behind) because of a basic female function. What an amazing idea! Allow women to go to school!

    It seems insane and archaic that we allow things like this to happen – and yet it happens.

  3. Frank Litorco says:

    On a more personal note, I remember with surreal clarity the day of the 1989 massacre at Montreal’s École Polytechnique, as the devastating news quickly spread through the halls of the University of Calgary Faculty of Engineering, where I happened to be a student then.

    We do not need to look that far back in our lifetime, nor do we need to examine other countries that we judge to be repressive towards women, to understand why we, living in a so-called modern society, have important International Women’s Day celebrations in Canada. Everyone knows that gender inequalities and injustices exist even in our own backyard, and it is a great thing we celebrate those who step up and lead the way to a better today and tomorrow. Let’s take a moment, however, to pay tribute to those who unwillingly sacrificed their lives and raised the awareness of this day to a whole new level.

  4. Jo. Chen says:

    Call me a devil’s advocate, but I noticed nothing mentioned by the federal government about International Women’s Day. Nothing in the press, but an interesting column written by The Toronto Star’s Antonia Zerbisias called “Painful Delivery.” Take a peek at http://thestar.blogs.com/broadsides/.

    Corporations that step up to the plate to support women’s issues definitely earn my attention and my buying power, but what of the federal government’s role? Sure they can write a nice speech that advocates women’s role in society etc., but when they pass bills and create policies that make it difficult for women to earn equal pay, earn equal status under the law, and protect their own person, it makes me wonder how corporations can get with the program and the federal government cannot. It seems that we have to shift some of that buying power to the political area as well.

  5. sarah says:

    re: “women’s space”… the notion of having a celebration or space for and by women is something that’s definitely contested in the feminist community. i’m thinking of events like the michigan womyn’s music fest – this women-only music fest in the states that has come under fire based on it’s definition of women as ‘women born women’, excluding trans women and genderqueer folks from their ranks (while seemingly welcoming transmen, depending on what you read –> which leads one to wonder if this is an ‘entrance on the basis of having a vagina’ policy).

    that being said, having politically engaged events in which women can come together… when the stereotypical (and socially encouraged) norm of a female i.d is often to NOT be politically engaged, or ‘too’ radical or ‘too’ demanding is important. it’s just where are we setting up boundaries and how are we policing them? who gets to be a woman enough to play a part?

    cisgendered men being left out of organizing or speaking at IWD events isn’t something i have a problem with. we live in a patriarchal society, where women (cisgendered and trans) are often forced to be subordinate to men in workplaces, social spaces and homes. having a space where women have total organizing control may make more women more comfortable to participate. it’s just figuring out how to convince men that IWD is a cause they should support and come out to, even if they don’t see their gender reflected on-stage.

  6. staffeen thompson says:

    Frank – Absolutely, it’s hard to believe that we’re still living in an age where we’re still battling people’s warped ideas of equality. Thank you for reminding us, that we still have quite a ways to go in that regard and for making us realize that men and women are still sacrificing their lives for us in 2008.

    JC – I think you’ve hit it right on the nose. Say no more. I still cannot believe that in 2008, we do not have complete equality. I hope I see it in my lifetime.

    Sarah – You raise a good point ‘who can take part?’ and I say: EVERYONE. This is a platform for celebrating the progress of women and acknowledging the progress still needed to be made by men, women, corporations, governments and society. I think men do take part, and true, more men may need to feel included – and maybe that’s the audience organizers need to focus on. In addition – I think corporations/governments need to assume a bigger role at this point in the game, it’s time to shift focus and ‘expand the audience’ completely. The time has arrived!

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