International Women’s Day 2021 Theme

International Women’s Day 2021: Women in Leadership

The global UN Women theme for International Women’s Day (IWD) 2021 is “Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”. This theme celebrates the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future. At our IWD events we will share incredible stories from women who inspire, lead and are committed to making a difference every day.

Women leaders are making a difference, every day

The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the disproportionate burdens that women carry and the centrality of women’s contributions to decision making.

Across the globe, women are leading organisations and institutions carrying out effective and inclusive COVID-19 responses, from the highest levels of decision-making through to frontline service delivery. Women bring different experiences, perspectives and skills to the table, and make invaluable contributions to decisions, policies and laws that work better for all.

And yet:

  • Women are significantly under-represented in parliaments, holding only one-quarter of parliamentary seats worldwide.[1] In Australia, we fare only slightly better, and still fall short of the 50/50 goal: 30.46% of MPs are women.[2]

  • In Australian companies, women represent just 17.1% of CEOs and 14.1% of board chairs.[3]

  • Just one of the 25 CEOs appointed to lead ASX 200 organisations in the past year has been female.[4]

  • While women comprise around 47% of all employees in Australia[5], they take home on average $253.60 less than men every week (full-time ordinary earnings), making the national gender pay gap 14% — a figure that has remained similar for the past twenty years.[6]

Advancing women in leadership is central to creating more profitable and productive economies, flourishing businesses and a healthier and more peaceful planet. There is a growing understanding and expectation that leadership in all facets of economic, political and social life must reflect communities; organisations miss out if 50% of the talent pool – women in all their diversity — is not around decision-making tables.

More diverse and inclusive groups have higher performance both on safety and operational performance.[7]

A recent Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) study shows that more women on Boards and in senior leadership roles result in improved company performance, profitability and productivity.[8] Moreover, the appointment of a female CEO led to a 12.9% increase in the likelihood of outperforming the sector on three or more metrics.[9]

When women are at the negotiating table, peace agreements are more likely to last 15 years or longer.[10]

Research shows that female-led countries are handling COVID-19 more effectively than their male counterparts. “…women leaders reacted more quickly and decisively in the face of potential fatalities…analysis clearly confirms that when women led countries are compared to countries similar to them along a range of characteristics, they have performed better, experiencing fewer cases as well as fewer deaths,” [11] Supriya Garikipati, Developmental Economist from Liverpool University

The difference your support will make, every day

Women bear the brunt of problems ranging from poverty to climate change, but they also possess assets and talents to solve them. UN Women’s overseas projects make a tangible difference to the lives of women and girls around the world by:

  • Developing women as leaders in the community, politics and businesses;

  • Running voter and civic education campaigns on gender equality;

  • Encouraging young men and women to engage in advocacy to make gender equality central to public policy-making;

  • Promoting women’s rights, including their right to vote and to violence-free campaigning;

  • Advancing gender equality.

Your support of our IWD event series makes these projects a reality; enabling women to become leaders and actively participate in decisions affecting them. The ultimate benefit is to society as a whole.

“We know that gender equality and the true equal empowerment of women and girls can underpin success in all domains. So, whether that’s access to education, access to good jobs, access to capital and money, access to leadership roles – greater gender equality, we know, solves so many of the world’s greatest problems.”

Sam Mostyn, President, Chief Executive Women [12]