International Women's Day (IWD) is one of our favourite days in the year, not because we don't celebrate women every day, but because it's a moment to stop and think. This is a day where we can reflect on what it means to be a woman and celebrate the impact we can have on our own lives as well as the world around us.
International Women's Day 2023
Each year, International Women's Day sets a theme, and this year's is #EmbraceEquity.
The group behind this day of awareness and celebration formally dates back to 1911, and a woman called Clara Zetkin - leader of the 'women's office' for the Social Democratic Party in Germany. She tabled the idea of an International Women's Day. She proposed that every country should celebrate women on one day every year to push for their demands. It's now celebrated on 8th March in more than 100 countries and has been made an official holiday in more than 25.
The organisation behind IWD today have said of this year's theme:
"Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that's diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated."
They continue on their website to note that the objective is to: "Celebrate women's achievement. Raise awareness about discrimination. Take action to drive gender parity."
How to celebrate International Women's Day
How International Women's Day is acknowledged in one's own life can be as personal or as public as you like. For many, the tradition has been to give flowers to the women in their lives to show appreciation.
The story goes that the tradition is to give mimosa flowers - said to have been chosen by feminists in Italy as a symbol of strength for Women's Day in 1946, to mark the first International Women's Day after the end of World War II.
It is not a romantic act, women give them to other women, and men give them to women - it's about acknowledgement and appreciation.
Supporting women in the spa industry
For our own part at Spabreaks.com, this day is significant on so many levels. Women are an intrinsic part of our organisation - we're female led, many of our most senior members of staff are women, and women are a huge part of the customer and spa community that we serve.
The spa industry is a huge employer of women. It has been amongst the first to provide the kind of flexibility that enables women to work alongside the demands of family and their personal lives. During the pandemic that became especially apparent and we worked hard alongside the Beauty and Wellbeing All Party Parliamentary Group with Carolyn Harris MP and Judith Cummins MP to advocate for the individuals and the businesses within the industry and how they contribute to the nation’s wellbeing.
Within our own company, equality runs through our DNA. We have constantly striven to support individuals and their needs in the workplace irrespective of gender, whether it's giving single parents the flexibility they need to enjoy their work and home lives, or creating an open culture of communication so that people feel able to speak about what they're enjoying or finding difficult. Of course, we have working structures, but we recognise that there has to be room within those for people to be individuals and treated as such.
Representing female strength
Perhaps intangibly but significantly, the spa industry's link to the best of femininity is something that is not always recognised but is incredibly powerful. It speaks to a characteristically female approach that can be enjoyed and practised by everyone.
While touch therapies are what the spa industry is best known for, there's a talking, communication and community element to it that both those who experience it and work within it benefit from. That seems to be an intrinsically feminine quality to bring to the space - a place of openness and finding strength in vulnerability and healing.
With that in mind, when as we turned out minds to International Women's Day this year, our Founder, Abi, said:
"Both within our team and within the wider spa industry we have always been privileged to work with incredible women. The spa industry is a major employer of women and has long been a space where they have shown their power and leadership in a nurturing and supportive way. Within our own ranks we aim to bring supposedly female characteristics to our company culture, creating an environment that offers compassion, equality and strength for every member of the team. Jacinda Ardern recently said: 'I refuse to believe that you cannot be both compassionate and strong.' I think that on International Women's Day it's that embodiment of female strength that we should celebrate and remember."
Happy International Women's Day.