As The Welcoming celebrates the 110th anniversary of International Women’s Day (March 8th), we reflect on the contributions and achievements of women and the position of women in society today.

Historical background

International Women’s Day, originally known as International Working Women’s Day, has been celebrated worldwide since 1911, and its roots lie in the socialist struggle of the early 20th century. When we talk about Women’s International Day, we cannot forget Clara Zetkin’s contribution and struggle for working-class women’s emancipation. Although she passed 88 years ago, Clara Zetkin remains an invaluable fixture in modern women movements.

Despite women’s valuable contribution to the world’s social, political and economic activities, women are still fighting for equal pay, recognition, and gender equality. Every day, in every country in the world, women are confronted with discrimination and inequality.

Women face violence, abuse and poor treatment at home, at work and in the wider communities – and are denied opportunities to learn, earn and lead. Furthermore, women perform 66% of the world’s work, produce 50% of the food, but earn only 10% of the income and own 1-2% of the property.

Celebrating women’s contributions and achievements 

Women as educators

Women have helped shape the society we live in today, using the most powerful tool available: education. The contribution of women to a society’s transition from pre-literate to literate is undeniable. Research has shown that education can enhance women’s status, enhance environmental protection, and widely raise the standard of living of a household. Women’s role is at the front end of the chain of improvements leading to the community’s long-term capacity.

Women and politics

It has been 102 years since the first women could vote in the UK. Significant progress has been made over those 102 years, and the number of women active in politics in the UK and globally has grown significantly. Considerable progress has been made through legal changes over the last 102 years to achieve equality in representation in the UK and its nations. There is much to celebrate in these landmark rule changes and their impact on women’s representation.

Over the last 102 years, the UK has had two women prime ministers and a growing number of women in political leadership roles. In 2018, women were leading, or co-leading, half of the political parties represented in the UK Parliament and devolved administrations. Currently, women hold the positions of First Minister in Scotland and First Minister in Northern Ireland.

Women as entrepreneurs

The first Muslim woman Khadijah al-Kubra, born in 556 CE in Makkah, was a leading and successful businesswoman in the Arab world. She was an intelligent and sharp woman of her time. It was Khadija who taught men about how to conduct business and management in the Arab World. However, not many people know or want to know and celebrate her contribution.

The ongoing struggle for gender equality

Despite the many contributions and achievements, women still experience many hurdles to lead their everyday life. In 2020, there were 60,641 domestic abuse-related cases and 30,718 charges reported in Scotland. 52% of Scotland’s population are women, and only 47 out of 129 MSPs are women.

At The Welcoming, we are trying to play our role by ensuring that our women service users are supported, informed, heard and encouraged in many aspects of their lives.

Friendship groups for women

Through our friendship groups for women, we bring together women from across the world, to exchange experiences, develop friendship and share a sense of belonging. Our women’s groups provide space and time for women to celebrate triumphs, share learning, and discuss their hopes and challenges as individuals from diverse walks of life, and cultures.

Throughout March, to commemorate International Women’s Day, all our Cultural Exchange for Women sessions will explore topics to do with women’s rights, women’s emancipation and the ongoing fight women face to be themselves, be seen and feel valued in modern society.

Weekly groups for women:

  • Tuesdays – Cultural Exchange for Women (12pm – 1pm)
  • Wednesdays – Women’s Friendship Group (Arabic/English) (11am – 12pm)

Contact Lizzie to join a group: [email protected]

Beyond our friendship groups

We recognise that gender equality must be discussed and championed by people of all genders, and not solely in women’s spaces. Therefore, we strongly encourage all our participants, volunteers, and staff members to celebrate International Women’s Day, learn about the achievements of women, and to hold conversations in The Welcoming’s groups, classes, and activities about gender equality.

Find out more

We encourage you to explore the following resources about International Women’s Day and the gender equality movement in Scotland:

  • International Women’s Day – Find out about this year’s theme, the history and what action you can take for women’s equality.
  • Amina Muslim Women’s Resource Centre – Amina is an inclusive organisation that empowers and supports Muslim and BME women to create an inclusive Scotland in which they can contribute fully.
  • Close the Gap – Close the Gap work with policymakers, employers and employees to influence and enable action to address the causes of women’s inequality at work.
  • Glasgow Women’s Library – The Library is a unique resource in Scotland, housing a huge collection of materials by, for and about women.
  • Refugee Women’s Strategy Group – The group supports refugee and asylum-seeking women to influence decisions that affect them and bring about positive changes in significant policy and service areas.
  • Saheliya – Saheliya supports and promotes the positive mental health and well-being of black, minority ethnic, asylum seeker, refugee and migrant women and girls (12+) in the Edinburgh and Glasgow area.
  • Scottish Women’s Aid – The leading organisation in Scotland working towards the prevention of domestic abuse.
  • Shakti Women’s Aid – Shakti Women’s Aid helps BME women, children, and young people experiencing, or who have experienced, domestic abuse from a partner, ex-partner, and/ or other members of the household.
  • The Young Women’s Movement Scotland – YWCA is a world movement of women leading change and they create empowering spaces for girls and young women.
  • Zero Tolerance – Zero Tolerance is a Scottish charity working to end men’s violence against women by promoting gender equality and challenging attitudes that normalise violence and abuse.
The Welcoming celebrates International Women’s Day 2021
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