On International Women’s Day and Beyond:

Thoughts from the Women of OMG

Aisha Ali

Senior Director, Hearts & Science MENA

City: Dubai
Country: UAE

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
To me, it’s about acknowledging women’s achievements from all walks of life. Hearing these stories inspires me to be a better version of myself

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
Oppression is a worldwide epidemic, not just something women in developing countries face. Only by empowering women to tell their stories can we help overcome this oppression not just for ourselves but for the women around us.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
By raising my daughters with the right values and beliefs so that they grow up to be strong and confident. Raised to stand their ground and influence other women to do the same.

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
Gender equality isn’t just about equal pay or having the same number of men and women on your board. Although those issues are important it goes much beyond that. Gender equality is an issue for everyone because it’s about breaking stereotypes. No matter your gender these stereotypes have impacted you in some form or another implicitly and explicitly. Ultimately, it’s about breaking these stereotypes so we can have a more fair and equal society.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
Don’t give in to the pre-conceived notion of what a woman’s role should be in society. Just follow your passion and make your own path.

Alicia Carroll

Director, Marketing Science Capabilities, Resolution Media USA

City: Chicago
Country: USA

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
IWD is an opportunity for all women – regardless of race, nationality, or religion – to be recognized for their contributions to society and uplifted as an important asset that contributes to the growth of every business and community. Many times, women’s stories go unheard, but the stories and struggles of our ancestors have contributed to the success of our society today. International Women’s Day gives me a chance to reflect on how so many women from the past have impacted my present, and an opportunity for me to determine how I can leave a legacy and impact the futures of young women after me.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
Empowered women empower others. When a woman is empowered, she is able to meet her full potential, be confident in her abilities, speak up and contribute so much more. When a woman feels valued, she provides more to relationships both personally and professionally.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
I celebrate womanhood by being collaborative, not competitive. There’s so much value, strength and power when women work together. We can be so much more successful if we pull each other up versus climbing over each other to achieve our goals. Every opportunity I get to support a woman, I do it. She needs the support and so do I.

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
Professionally, gender equality should be a cause that everyone fights for because it creates better dynamic, energy and innovation in the workplace. Having men and women equally valued provides an opportunity for varied thoughts and innovative ideas, due to the diversity in perspectives. It also fosters a meaningful collaborative dynamic amongst men and women, which leads to success of both genders. From a general standpoint, gender equality is an “everyone” issue because everyone is affected by women. Men are raised by women and are raising young girls so they need to have the tools – just as much as women do – to empower and speak up for women, even when they’re not in the room. There needs to be a ripple effect of empowering women and fighting for equality so that generations after us can grow in a world that values genders equally and create better relationships.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
Never silence yourself. Always speak up and never doubt your presence in a room. If you have a seat at the table, you’re there for a reason.

Amanda Kelly

Office Assistant, PHD Canada

City: Toronto
Country: Canada

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
International Women’s Day is a time where Women+ can speak up in hopes that there won't be fear of retribution. It’s a day to commemorate those women who have paved the way for us to continue fighting for our rights as an integral part of society. It is important for everyone to remember those women+ who came before us to break down the patriarchy and gain our rights. Those who fought for our rights to vote, to dress outside of the cultural norms and those who have lost their lives speaking out for these rights.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
It is important for Women+ to feel empowered to stand up for what is right. It is important to empower Women+ and show them that we are just as strong, capable and important as men. Empowerment is the greatest weapon we have other than our voices.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
I celebrate my Woman+-hood by not allowing society to define who I am and what it means to be a “woman”. I make sure to be an advocate and speak up for those who have felt put down and disrespected by the community around them. I will always stand up for our rights and be true to what it means to be a member of our society.

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
Gender equality is more important than some people may realize. Gender equality involves more than just “men” and women”. It needs to include trans+, queer folk, people of colour, sex workers, queer people, and all other folk who feel they don’t have a space in the community due to their gender. No person should have to feel judged, put down or insulted because of their identity which is why this an “everyone” issue. We all need to educate ourselves and do better.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
To my younger self I would say, hang in there. The world can be a dark place and people will come at you in all different directions. Don’t pay attention to those who try and tell you what to wear, who to date, how to act or make you feel lesser than your male peers. Know that everything is not your fault, or that men are always right at the end of the day. If you are harassed, it is NOT because of “the way you’re dressed”, it is because of the intolerance of other people. This is still a broken society but those who came before us have paved the way to make things a bit easier and you will do the same.

** Women+ refers to those who are not only cis gendered women. Those who fall along the spectrum.

Anita Abbasi

Broadcast Talent & Traffic Coordinator, OBS Canada

City: Toronto, ON
Country: Canada

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
This day has changed a lot in meaning for me over the last few years as the fight for diversity, equality and gender parity is more at the forefront in our everyday. International Women's Day feels more like the ultimate remembrance day to consider the histories of the many women, transwomen, femme and non-binary folk, who allowed this current generation of women and peoples the opportunities they may not have had until recently.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
If we look to many parts of the world, women are often at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder yet women carry out the bulk of a society's most important work that keeps it together. When women suffer, a society suffers. When women are empowered, there is a weight shift that allows for work to be shared by all, rather than one member of society.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
I am constantly challenging my own internalized biases about womanhood that puts a strain on my relationship with other women-identifying folks. I think we need to be there for one another. I celebrate womanhood by striving to be a better person in that regard.

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
Gender is a social construct. So when we talk about gender inequality, we often are addressing how it affects everyone. For certain men, gender equality seems to pose no benefit. That is mainly because they do not recognize how destructive and unproductive gender inequality is in their everyday lives. Identities of individual and family have changed. Men and women are sharing responsibilities for survival -- i.e. bringing in income, child-rearing, caregiving, housekeeping, etc. This act of sharing responsibility, of mutual respect, of cooperation is gender equality. It relieves social pressure and restores a sense of balance that is detrimental to achieving a sense of happiness.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
I would tell my younger self that even though there have been strides taken for the betterment of women, this is still a male-dominated world and in order for women to feel successful, they have to learn to be okay with taking up space.

Anneliese Pienaar

General Manager, People & Culture, Resolution Australia

City: Sydney
Country: Australia

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
Personally, I am thankful that I have been fortunate enough to be treated as an equal and given the opportunities I’ve had. International Women’s Day allows for everyone to pause our hectic lives and evaluate what we as women have achieved and contributed in various walks of life. Let us celebrate the success stories and speak up for the women who don’t have a voice.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
Women have been innovating and excelling in the fields of science and math for hundreds of years, despite facing harassment and discrimination. More empowerment means more women in science, which means more life-saving inventions.
Financial empowerment of women spurs economic growth within a country…which can lead to the country becoming more stable, reducing poverty, and becoming a bigger player in the global market.
The vast majority of agricultural workers in the world are female. Empowerment to grow, buy, and sell the crops they want decreases malnourishment in producing countries and increases the amount of food available for export.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
Self-love - First and foremost, remembering that love and respect starts with me. By exercising self-love and self-care, I build a strong base to support the women around me and send the message about how I deserve to be treated by others. Whether it’s taking time to rest when you need it, appreciating your natural talents, or standing up for yourself in situations that are unfair, how are you showing yourself love today?

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
Gender equality is a human right, but our world faces a persistent gap in access to opportunities and decision-making power for women and men.
Globally, women have fewer opportunities for economic participation than men, less access to basic and higher education, greater health and safety risks, and less political representation.
Guaranteeing the rights of women and giving them opportunities to reach their full potential is critical not only for attaining gender equality, but also for meeting a wide range of international development goals. Empowered women and girls contribute to the health and productivity of their families, communities, and countries, creating a ripple effect that benefits everyone.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
Stay true to what you believe in, work hard and be a voice.

Anu Patrick

Senior Analyst, Global Ad Operations-UK, OMD Germany

City: Bangalore
Country: India

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
It is a day when women are recognized for their economic, political and social achievements. It will help to eliminate discrimination against women worldwide. It also focused on motiving women to explore their talent and equal participation in global development.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
In some societies, women are still discriminated on their gender. They are not given the same right as men. It is important to strengthen the social, educational and economic powers of women. To create an environment where there is no gender bias and have equal rights in society and workplaces and to showcase that Women are not depended on men.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
Self-love, Encourage the people who are working for women empowerment, Motivate the women around you – build self-esteem and confidence, Speak out against discrimination.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
Explore the talent in good way, be competitive in all fields such as social, educational, politics and economic. Fight for equal rights in society and workplaces. Finally, Women are not depended on men, You have your own life. love & enjoy your life YOLO 😊

Asritha Sai Malkireddy

Associate, Marketing Science, Hearts & Science

City: Bangalore
Country: India

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
Women Empowerment – It is an ability of a girl child to enjoy their rights, to take her own decisions, thoughts. It is very important to be empowered, inorder to benefit from the resources which we have, assets and to improve our economic status as well.

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
Gender as an Issue – I personally feel, there is an issue in equality – How society looks and feel, when a girl child does her first cry and when boy do it. It is still ongoing issue on some of the rural areas.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
My advice – Need to think out of box, when I am going to take any of the decisions in my career.

As a girl child, I am very happy since, a girl can look like a boy in her appearance like dressing and in some aspects… but a boy cannot. The reason looks funny but I would like to say SHE CAN PLAY A DUAL ROLE. GIVE A GIRL THE RIGHT SHOES, SHE CAN CONQUER THE ENTIRE WORLD.

Carla Cifra

General Manager, OMD Philippines

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
It’s a special day when women are recognized for their importance and significant role in society. A day where we celebrate and inspire women all over the world. A day where stories are shared about the multi-faceted roles of women.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
With empowerment, women can boldly share their voice in society, uphold rights and reinforce their significance to the corporate world.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
Every day is day to celebrate womanhood, especially at Omnicom Media Group Philippines where we have many inspirational women. We create a healthy culture of fun, love and support for the women in our workplace. Ultimately, spending quality mother-daughter bonding time is my highest form of celebrating womanhood.

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
Gender equality is an “everyone issue” in the Philippines, as demonstrated in the World Economic Forum report where we consistently rank among the top 10 in closing the gender gap. However, I do believe inequality is an “everyone issue” because all human beings, regardless of their gender or other characteristics, continue to experience certain degrees of marginalization in society; that not all nations recognize women’s rights and LGBT communities, for example. Only when we recognise inequality as an “everyone issue” can we effect change.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
Be confident, be courageous, and have faith in the things you can accomplish. Be fearless in creating new adventures and taking new roles that will enhance and nurture your capabilities. Finally, always stay grounded and champion inclusivity.

Carla Holding

Head of AV, OMG Programmatic UK

City: London
Country: United Kingdom

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
A day for women of all ethnicities, nationalities, economic statuses, cultures and identities to unite, stand strong and celebrate our achievements as females.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
Whilst we have come some way towards our goal of achieving full gender equality for women around the world, we still have a long way to go. A gender pay gap persists across the globe, women are not present in equal numbers in business or politics and in some communities women’s education continues to be substandard or non-existent.
Women’s empowerment is important for self-esteem, to make women feel strong and able to achieve life goals without gender boundaries. By empowering women we will continue working towards the goal of full gender equality.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
I look after myself. I partake in activities that I enjoy and keep me fit, such as going to the gym and to yoga class. I make sure to eat well, get plenty of sleep and take time out after a busy day/week at work, going to the cinema or for a nice meal and spending time with loved ones.
I support other women. Whether this is in the work place, my friendship circle, my family/extended family or female acquaintances, wherever possible I promote and support other females. I’m getting married this year and every person we have hired for the big day, aside from one, is female.

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
Social and cultural norms don’t just harm females, they harm everyone. To end the cycles of subservience, lack of opportunity and violence in some cases, both women and men need to question prescribed gender roles.
Equal opportunities means the same access to education and jobs. This doesn’t just mean women are educated in stereotypically male topics and considered equally for stereotypically male jobs, it's important everyone has access to all education and jobs regardless of gender or identity.
A recent example of males having improved equal opportunities to women, in the UK, is the shared parental leave legislation. I believe there is still a long way to go with this too, but it is a step in the right direction. I hope gradually this will lead to more men taking on stereotypically female jobs, adopting a greater role in child upbringing and thus the next generations holding more gender equal views.
Furthermore, both genders need to work together to provide fair and enforceable legislation to protect both women and men from violence inside and outside of the home and to protect from discrimination and harassment in the workplace.
In Western communities the ‘Me Too’ campaign highlighted the need for legislation against sexual harassment and has started to make sexual harassment very unacceptable. Up skirting has been made an offence, not only for women in skirts but also men in kilts. Unfortunately, FGM continues to be practiced in at least 30 countries worldwide, including the UK where it’s hard to believe that the first trial for this act is taking place only now. This is all real progress in the UK and something both genders need to work together to enforce and eradicate globally.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
I am very fortunate to have been bought up in a family where there were no expectations to conform to gender stereotypes. As a child I was dressed in blue and wore trousers, I wasn’t given gender specific toys, and neither was my brother. At home all genders were equal.
I would tell myself, regardless of the situation, never to succumb to pressure to conform to gender stereotypes, to never underestimate what I am able to achieve, to ignore people who doubt my ability to succeed and always aim as high as I can see.

Caroline Moul

President, PHD Canada

City: Toronto
Country: Canada

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
It is celebrating achievement of Women around the world. Breaking down barriers and old cultural norms and making a difference in people, companies, and the world overall.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
Globally, we have grown up with pressures and cultural norms that make us question how we show up. Feeling empowered gives us the ability, the right, the courage to show up as our authentic self with drive and determination to achieve our dreams.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
It starts with self-care and ensuring there is a balance of taking care on “me”, followed by ensuring I am supporting and helping women grow, be it supporting their businesses, professionally, or personally.

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
It takes everyone to ensure there is equality. From the way we treat one another to the conscious thought to ensure we have gender equality present in the boardroom. It is a conscious behaviour that we all choose to be aware of and take action to ensure equality is there.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
Don’t shy away from going after what you want and have the courage to ask for it.

Carolyn Fuller

Manager, Digital Ad Platforms, OMG (PHD) Canada

City: Toronto
Country: Canada

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
IWD should be a day of celebrating everything that women are, our myriad accomplishments throughout history and all the things we can achieve in the future. It should recognize that women are complex and impossible to categorize and capable of incredible feats.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
Because we are constantly marginalized, talked over, ignored, shamed and judged. As little girls, we are told to be nice, to be quiet, to get along, to not make waves.
As teenagers, the seeds of doubt about ourselves are sown. We are shown images of impossibly beautiful women and come to understand that what is most important is to fit in, to align ourselves with what we see in media – that is, thin, heterosexual, straight-haired, white and entirely without flaw or character. Namely, that our value is inextricably linked to our appearance. Our tastes are mocked. (see: any musical group/act popular with young and/or teenage girls.)
As adults in the workforce, we are paid less than men to do the same job. We do the bulk of the work in the home. We do the lion’s share of the work of raising kids. We are still sold the same message of needing to be perfect that society has been indoctrinated with for decades, centuries, millenia. We are told to calm down, to be quiet, that our feelings are invalid, inconsequential and incorrect. It is assumed we cannot make appropriate choices and so have to be told basic things - like how to dress ourselves - by people who have never had those insulting words spoken to them. When we do speak up, we are frequently ignored or punished.
Women need to feel empowered with the knowledge that all of that is complete nonsense. That we can be anything we want and that we should be true to ourselves. If that means being loud, quiet, independent, sensitive, silly, stern, bookworms, social butterflies, androgynous, promiscuous, bossy, athletic, girly, nasty, sweet, career-driven, family-focused or any combination of the above then so be it. We should not be pegged into one behaviour or gender or group. And it’s not just those who identify as female who need to know this. It’s those who identify as male, too.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
I celebrate womanhood by embracing women of all kinds. It’s so important that women support each other and celebrate each other’s successes. We are so often pitted against each other that it becomes natural, second nature.
I celebrate womanhood by appreciating all that I can do both physically and cognitively and doing the same for any other person who identifies as female.
I celebrate womanhood by recognizing that the patriarchal system that runs the world at large and my small part of it is built to suppress women. To keep them quiet. To give them orders and to do its best to enforce them. And in recognizing this, I celebrate womanhood by doing my best to smash this to the ground.

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
It is an everyone issue because, despite the leaps forward women have taken, we live in a patriarchal society. Attitudes toward women are so toxic that leader of the free world feels comfortable enough in his white, male privilege to objectify and harass women. It is an everyone issue because women are made to feel unsafe by men wherever we go: in transit, at work, walking down the street day or night, at a bar, at a park, on a plane, in a church. Literally anywhere we go, anywhere in the world.
The #Metoo movement affected literally every single woman I know, 95% of whom had experienced sexual harassment or abuse directly. Many of the men I know were shocked to hear it. To a woman, not one was surprised. This is why it is an “everyone” issue: because the 50% of the population that holds 80% of the power seems to have missed the point that this an “everyone” issue.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
If I could go back in time, I would tell my younger self that I didn’t need to care so much about fitting in, that I didn’t always need to be the peacemaker, that I could have put my needs first more often.
But more to the point, I would tell the other girls in high school that we should be sticking together and that they were good enough just as they were. I would tell them that if they wanted to wear make up, a tube top, sweat pants, baggy sweaters or high heels, that was all okay as long as it was their choice and they felt empowered.
I would tell the boys that they were bullies, that it was unacceptable to talk about how far they’d gotten with girls or spread nefarious lies. I would also tell them that it was okay to be insecure but not okay to take out their unresolved feelings on others.
I would tell the teachers I had that if a boy hits me, pulls my hair or snaps my bra strap it is not because they like me. I would tell them – and literally every adult who has ever said this – that “boys will be boys” is never an acceptable excuse for poor behaviour.

Cate McVeigh

Managing Director of Marketing Science, Annalect USA

City: San Francisco
Country: USA

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
It’s a day to celebrate the leaps and strides in women’s rights, particularly in the last century. More and more I’m seeing that we’re not reserving this to one day a year. I like to think of what women have accomplished in the last year;
- More females elected to US Congress than ever before
- Laws being removed in different countries like Ireland and Saudi Arabia that amplify the rights of women
- A majority female cabinet being appointed in Spain
- The gender pay gap narrowing in some countries and Iceland passing laws to improve pay parity

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
Think of the brilliant capabilities that must have been lost because a woman was not empowered. It’s important that talent is allowed to shine and change our world, regardless of gender. I’ve seen brilliant women clothe themselves in resilience and audacity to be allowed to contribute as much as men.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
I know as a woman it’s important that I stand up for myself. But it’s as important to stand up for other women. When women support women, we can do great things.

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
Anyone who is secure in what they can bring to the world, is not afraid of gender equality. Binary and non binary people are afforded different opportunities and acceptance in the world today. The excellence of one person can impact society greatly, equal support of any gender will benefit us all collectively.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
Don’t be afraid to tread on eggshells, in fact don’t be afraid to fearlessly march on them. Your voice will only be heard if you use it.

Charli Ursell

Head of Transformation, PHD Dubai

City: Dubai
Country: UAE

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
It marks the progress we continue to make towards gender equality globally, but we have further to go. It’s a reminder to share responsibility for building a world where every human is afforded respect, understanding and freedom of choice and acknowledge our power to effect change.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
Any system that is set up to hold one sector of society behind another inhibits our progress as humanity; we all need to push forward in equal measure for a more positive world. Women must feel confident that their insight is enough to incite change even in areas where it challenges a fundamentally established status quo. Female empowerment helps break down barriers that stand in the way of this.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
I think it’s become easier as I’ve gotten older. Motherhood, career progress and life experience have developed my knowledge of what it means to be a woman – the things we are just as capable of, the things that set us apart and should be celebrated. My celebration of womanhood is in recognizing the gifts I received in being born female and applying them across the different areas of my life.

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
Gender equality opens us up to a better world for all. Women can provide a unique perspective on global issues which positively benefits entire economies and societies across the globe. By ensuring that women are not limited by political and social agendas and afforded the same levels of respect, privilege and power to create change from positions of leadership we open ourselves up to a future that benefits everyone.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
Arm yourself with education – knowledge is power and it’s a gift that many do not have access to. Find female role models who inspire you and absorb everything you can from them. Be brave and trust in your own instincts – be mindful not to hand anyone the power to undermine your position if you know it’s right.

Chloe Neo

Managing Director, OMD Singapore

Country: Singapore

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
The 8th of March has been a very special and meaningful date for me as that’s the day my second child was born, a gift of love and celebration of my womanhood!

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
It’s important for everyone - men and women, adults and children - to feel empowered as a celebration of our individualism. Instead of looking for empowerment from someone (of course that’s a plus!), I believe empowerment comes from within. When we celebrate ourselves, we enable ourselves to be more aware of who we are, be open to possibilities and have better perspectives and control of our life.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
Wearing my favorite lipstick, flaunting my dresses and scaling new heights, in my heels of course!
The biggest celebration of one’s self is to love who you are.

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
Clearly, the world is not just made up of a single gender, and gender equality is a manifestation of equal human rights. The right to freedom of thought, speech, having access to education, career opportunities and benefits, is for all and not just for one particular gender. Additionally, to shift the belief system on gender matters, we need all genders, not just women, to recognize the issue and rally the change!

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
Something I believe in and hope my little girls will grow up to be:
Be a girl with a mind
Be a woman with a voice
Be a lady who kicks ass

Cynthia Salloum

Manager - Strategic Marketing Investments, OMD Dubai

City: Dubai
Country: UAE

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
Women have always been at the forefront of fighting against discrimination and have had to work hard for recognition. International Women’s Day is a marker for their strength; an opportunity to honor their achievements, bring solidarity, create international awareness and remind people that unfortunately, a lot of women are still struggling to fulfill their most basic needs. I hope one day we will no longer need such reminders of injustice.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
Empowering women is to give them the right; the encouragement to be confident in their ability to realize their worth and full potential. Women empowerment is something every woman should experience; It helps promote economic independence and overall societal as well as national developments. In fact, as greatly stated by Larry Summers, “when you educate a boy, you educate one individual, when you educate a girl you educate a nation”.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
Growing up, I was surrounded by strong women and as I stepped into womanhood, I learned that it all starts with self-love; you first need to love and respect yourself to be able to support others. Having a strong base helps me uplift women around me by supporting their accomplishments instead of criticizing their flaws and bringing them down. Also, being a shopaholic, I’m always looking for women-owned businesses, to show support and buy their products.

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
Since women are usually the ones most affected by discrimination, gender equality has often been thought of as a “women’s issue” and expected to be solved by women. However, this is a world-wide issue that has detrimental effects on society and moving towards a “WEforSHE” approach is paramount; everyone needs to act and work in solidarity with women to achieve gender equality as it’s not only limited to creating advantages for women but would ultimately benefit men as well.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
It all starts from within:
1. Self-Care: Get enough sleep, eat well, exercise and do the things you love
2. Self-Love: You might not always get support from others and might have to be your own support system
3. Self-Confidence: You can achieve anything you set your mind to
4. Self-Worth: Only surround yourself with people who treat you like you’re their equal
5. Self-Starter: Try something new and prove to yourself that you’re capable of achieving it

Diane Weeks

Executive Business Director, Hearts & Science USA

City: NYC
Country: United States

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
International Women’s Day serves as a reminder to be thankful and appreciative for all the important and generous women in my life. I think about the sacrifices the women in my family made to give me every opportunity to succeed.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
It is important to feel empowered because while our world is in much better place and offers incredible opportunities for women we still have work to do. As women, we need to lift each other up particularly in the work-place. Empowerment comes across in different ways and many times it’s the small things that add up to larger change over time. Empowerment also means being accessible to fellow women to talk about what it takes to be a leader, handle work life-life balance. Empower others by being there and being present.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
I never really thought about ‘womanhood’ and the power that comes with it until I became a mother. To me womanhood/motherhood is the biggest and most important job in the world. Balancing work and being a mom is no joke, I celebrate by surviving everyday!

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
Gender equality is an everyone issue because its everyone’s responsibility to make this world a kinder more accepting place.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
If I could go back in time, I would tell myself to be more bold and confident. I would tell myself to take more risks and not be afraid to ask more questions.

Eileen Ooi

Managing Director, PHD Malaysia

Country: Malaysia

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
To me, every day is International Women’s day. Being a woman is great in this era, as I see greater support for women, more openness and inclusion. Women have demonstrated their ability to be strong, and yet empathetic and caring.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
A study from Harvard Business Review shows that 64% of the leaders in the industry are still men. While there has been an increase in the recognition of women leaders across Asia, it still seems to be at a nascent stage. The advertising industry in Malaysia has less than 10 women in senior leadership roles across agencies. There is still a need for companies in Southeast Asian markets to increase focus and drive programs that support women – by being more inclusive and enabling women to succeed. Additionally, unconscious biases need to be eliminated, transforming the way we behave as a company and society.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
After years of working and through my many ups and downs, I have realized that there is no need to fear or feel apologetic about being a woman, or about being a working mom with two young kids who needs to split her time between work and home.
My motto has been to champion young women in our organization and the industry to remove the mindset about the invisible glass ceiling. I was recently a guest speaker at Google’s Womenwill event in Malaysia, discussing the same topic. As women, we are brought up thinking that we are inferior (and these are primarily due to unconscious biases in our society), thinking that our emotions are our weakness. But in fact, I realize everyday as a leader, my emotions and intuitions are my strongest asset. Being able to sense unspoken concerns or challenges that team members face. Being able to lean in more comfortably to connect on a personal level, but still uphold a strong rationale and business-oriented mindset.
These values have turned around PHD Malaysia’s culture, and our unity as a team (or rather a family, as our people call it) has allowed us to achieve the growth we have to date. And this can only get better from here!

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
Honestly, it’s not just a “women issue” as there are many issues that are apparent in our society, such as those faced in the workplace by the elderly and LGBT employees, for example. As a society, we need to remove unconscious biases and truly start embracing diversity, rather than just paying lip-service.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
Self-doubt is the biggest culprit to blocking one’s growth; so, remove that invisible glass ceiling. Don’t listen to what the world tells you about being a woman; believe in yourself and in your capability. Be more empathetic, more emotional and more intuitive as a leader.
Also, lead with your head and act with your heart.

Harathi Basireddy

Associate, Marketing Science, Hearts & Science India

City: Bangalore
Country: India

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
“International Women’s Day" is an opportunity to honour the women who have been at the forefront of fighting against gender inequality, and bringing solidarity through physical, spiritual, and virtual outlets. It is a day to reflect on the work that remains, knowing that many women continue to be unheard, excluded from civil rights as institutional and government practices are both progressing and regressing.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
Because Still there are the people who discourage women that you are a women you cannot make it happen So it’s important for every girl to feel empowered and Do what they “Really Wanted to do in their life”.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
"So, I would tell myself, ‘There is light at the end of the tunnel. Things will start to fall into place - I’m not sure when and where. But one day you’ll wake up, and you’ll have clarity and you’ll feel grounded and you won’t care so much about what everyone else thinks about you. You’ll do you, and you’ll be authentic, and you’ll be raw, and you’ll be amazing'."

Isatu Kamara

New Business and Marketing Executive, OMG UK

City: London
Country: United Kingdom

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
International Women’s Day is a celebration of all women from all backgrounds and walks of life. I’m fortunate enough to have grown up in a position of privilege, being born and raised in a first world country, but many women cannot say the same. A day like this is about celebrating all women but in particular the hidden women, the women without a voice and letting them know that they are seen.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
I think it’s important for all women to feel confident within themselves and live a life without limitations or boundaries. Patriarchy is still a very big issue in society and women are still being taught to downplay their successes for fear of being perceived negatively. There’s nothing wrong with patting yourself on the back and celebrating when you reach a goal and you never know who you may be inspiring by doing so.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
I celebrate my womanhood by being unapologetically me. I’m what you’d call a stereotypical ‘girly girl’. I love makeup, fashion, hair and these things make me feel good! But I think its important to allow everyone to be different and celebrate the differences in women as these are what make us individuals.

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
Gender equality is a human rights issue that can only bring about positive change and this change impacts everyone. Inequalities in general are not self-correcting so in order for change to take place we must all take accountability.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
My advice would be to be confident and brave. Don’t let any insecurities stop you from doing what you want to do and worry less, everything will fall into place. Finally, smile more and just have more fun!

Jane Stanley

Managing Director, OMG New Zealand

Country: New Zealand

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
It means one word for me: hope. For too long, women have been overlooked, criticized and compared to masculine traits, instead of being celebrated for who we are and what we can do. This day signals that women (and more importantly, the girls that shadow us) are finally making progress.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
For too long, women have stifled their opinions, personalities and interests, trying to almost comply to a man’s view of the world. But that hasn’t created balance in our societies, as you need both genders in equal parts to ensure we continue to thrive as a human race. It’s having that ‘Yin’ and ‘Yang’ balancing each other. So, on a bigger scale, women have to fight to be empowered as when the balance is uneven, the consequences can be high.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
I celebrate by being proud of what I have achieved over the years. I’ve faced a lot of hurdles as a woman in advertising and encountered a few close “Me Too” moments along the way. But I am still here, and I am still fighting for a better industry for our clients and the young talent that will come after me. And I am not alone, there are so many amazing women that surround me in OMG that have similar pasts and are focused on what we could do in the future.

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
I am proud to be a woman, but I don’t wear that on my sleeve. It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, black or white, Catholic or Jewish, or the cleaner or the CEO… We all deserve to be treated with the same level of respect. It’s about ditching one’s ego, whether societal or individual, and then starting to recognize everyone as an equal in this world. And that starts with each and every one of us, in every minute of the day.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
Don’t beat yourself up if something goes wrong; learn from it quickly but then move on. Presence is the greatest gift in leadership, whether you are a man or a woman.

Jennie Cady

Communications Planning Director, PHD USA

City: Chicago
Country: USA

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
To me, it is a day to recognize and celebrate all the women that have paved the way for us to this point in time. It is an opportunity to ignite passion in all of us, all genders, and remind everyone how far we still are from true equality. And most importantly it is a global opportunity to elevate the real stories – the good, the bad, and everything in between – to empower us all to keep going. To take that first step even when we may feel alone or faced with immense challenges. It is a day to showcase how many passionate people exist on a global and collective scale. However, the day should never be a one time thing – it should be a launching pad for consistently showing up for Women, sponsoring them in the workplace, and making room at the table even when it feels crowded. So to me, it is more than a day. It is an excuse to stand loud and proud, be heard and jump-start the momentum of change.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
Empowerment breeds empowerment. When women are empowered they rise up. They discover their truest voice and will fight for what they believe in. Yet, that is not the pivotal reason why I think it is important for women to feel empowered. Often times, we overlook the competitive nature amongst women. We don’t always talk about it. Yet, at times we find ourselves in situations where there is an underlying belief system (or story we may tell ourselves) that there are only so many seats for women – a set number. So we compete against other women. Yet that really isn’t true. There is room for all of us when we shift our perspective. And when women are empowered that undercurrent magically melts away. We are more likely to lift others up, sponsor others, and pull up a seat next to ours to make room for other women. Plain and simple empowered women empower others (women, men, all humans).

How do you celebrate womanhood?
This gave me pause and I caught myself starting to worry about what others might think of my response. But here goes. First and foremost, I celebrate womanhood by being authentically true to myself. Being a woman is multifaceted. I’m not just Jennie Cady Communications Planner. I am my passions, interests, and hobbies. I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a mentor. I have been called “too much” and “not enough”. Yet despite what others may say or think, we should never be afraid to be who we are, even at work. So to celebrate womanhood, being me at all times unlocks my power as a woman. And it is when I am fully owning the woman that I am – I am fully awake. Able to mentor and empower other women. It allows me to co-lead our local Chicago Omniwomen chapter and celebrate all of the incredible women (and men) who are riding along with us – leading with gratitude and honesty even when things get tough. It’s about embracing vulnerability, humility, and asking for help when it might be hard to admit it is needed – so that we can come together as one and create an organization that truly empowers all – as I truly believe our individual greatness should never be limited by our gender or who we fundamentally are as people (or any other type of categorization for that matter). Because greatness has no gender.

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
It is an “everyone” issue because of the word equality. Every gender is involved in progressing another to a status of equality. It takes every single person to make change happen. No matter of equality is ever just a “fill in the blank” issue. Equality is a human issue plain and simple. When we seek to divide or compartmentalize gender equality as a women’s issue – we put it in a box. For someone else to deal with. We forget the range and spectrum that gender truly is. And when we think of getting pay, rights, and opportunities to parity around the globe when many of the individuals holding the power to make those decisions are men – we cannot simply make it be a problem for women to solve. All of us take part in supporting each other, lifting or raising up those that are being overlooked, and ensuring that we are together not separate down to how we “solve” the issues at stake.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
First – Simply Show up. Each and every day. Especially when it is really hard. Because if you don’t show up you will never know what you are capable of. Second – Be you, authentically. don’t waste your time worrying about what other people might be thinking about you or saying about you. Frankly it is none of your business. Yes – be mindful and coachable and listen when getting feedback. But for all the other times when you start talking down to yourself in your head – don’t. It’s a waste of time and distracts you from discovering your potential. Third – Don’t feed your inner “mean girl”. It is much easier to take a breath or take a walk or have the difficult conversation with someone when things get tough, or your feel cheated, or someone does something not so kind. Step away or step up rather than taking time to gossip or spread that negative energy to those around you. You will feel much better after the fact as well. It’s hard and it takes work, but it is worth it. Fourth – Empower others. It will fuel your fire to keep going. Last but not least – Fifth – Don’t let fear run you. Never be afraid to fail. Do things that scare you (in a good way). Then act despite fear and when you fail-because you will. Fail fast by reflecting, learning, growing, and trying again. Failure isn’t the end – it is just finding a new path to try.

Kate Winfrey

Supervisor, Resolution Media USA

City: Dallas
Country: US

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
International Women’s Day is a time to celebrate how far women have come in the fight for equality but it is also a time to take stock of the challenges that still remain.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
It is important for women to feel empowered because when a woman has a sense of agency over her life it allows her to make proactive choices and influences her capability to be resilient in the face of challenges.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
I celebrate womanhood by celebrating the amazing women in my life – my mom, sister, grandmother and friends. Whether it’s sending a card to a friend for her new promotion or just a call to my mom to tell her I love and appreciate her it’s important to mark occasions big and small.

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
Gender equality is an “everyone issue” because when women are left out of the conversation talent is squandered and opportunities get missed. This has a negative impact at all levels of society from companies missing out on top performers to families missing out on additional income.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
Be bold, you will never receive what you don’t ask for.

Katja Korschinek

Referent (Assistant) of the CEO, Resolution Media Germany

City: Munich
Country: Germany

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
International Women’s Day reminds everybody every year that there is still so much inequality regarding women in business, politics and generally in the public sphere. It reminds everyone that there is still so much that we can do better in regard to empowerment, giving and listening to diverse voices – and not only the loudest and strongest.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
Feeling empowered is important to everyone. Due to culture and society, girls are very often not brought up with an empowered mind-set and thus need to learn this as an adult. So it is much harder and sometimes impossible. I am very thankful to my parents that they never took my self-understanding away – it helped me to become who I am and what I am standing for much earlier and with ease.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
I celebrate womanhood every day through the way I live my life: I am thankful, I allow myself to be and I love to see how this attitude spreads throughout friends, family and colleagues.

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
Gender equality is an “everyone” issue as treating someone else unfair always in the long-term harms yourself as well. Suppression of someone’s rights, voice and presence has a negative effect on the suppressors as well.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
Keep on doing the things you believe in – this is the right way. Being a girl/woman never means you cannot do anything. But you can do it differently from how people tell you things should be done.

Kiessé Lamour

Managing Partner, Digital Best Practice and Brand Safety, OMG UK

City: London
Country: United Kingdom

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
IWD to me is a reminder that we've still got a long way to go when it comes to women's rights and we shouldn't be complacent about it. And yes, we may not be where we used to be but we still aren't where we need to be. In the UK, 2018 marked the 100-year anniversary of some women achieving the right to vote, and yet, 2018 was also the year where hashtags like #MeToo, #TimeTo, #TimesUp, #GenderPayGap took the internet by storm, revealing just the tip of the iceberg of the challenges women still face every day.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
When women feel empowered, they become authentic, purposeful, and incredibly resourceful. They are able to find their voice and make it heard, they don’t let others shape their tone or define their identity. Empowered women, embrace their womanhood but also accept their humanity through and through because you only can have an impact when you're not trying to be someone else or trying to live by other people's standards or opinions.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
Simply by being unreservedly proud of and fiercely owning what I call The Kiessé Trinity i.e Kiessé the woman, Kiessé the wife, and Kiessé the mother. It is my version of the “three-strand cord that cannot easily be broken”.

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
A society that attains gender equality will break the shackles of gender stereotypes that put women and men in very specific roles. Gender equality means that men for example would be able to take paternity leave without feeling the judgement of society or being seen as emasculated. So it's about time people understood that gender equality isn't just about women fighting for equal pay or equal representation in boardrooms. Gender equality is about women AND MEN having access to and enjoying the same opportunities, privileges, benefits etc. To think for a second that gender equality is a women's issue is quite frankly archaic and very patriarchal. Yes, I dropped the P bomb, sue me!

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
Being a woman is hard. Despite some of the progress achieved so far, you will come to realise that women are still -more often than not- at a disadvantage socially, economically, politically, professionally etc. As a result, many voices, both internal and external, will tell you implicitly and sometimes overtly that you should / should not, you can / cannot, you must / must not do this or that because you are a woman. But don't ever accept the stereotypes or labels that will be put on you, break every box that you will be put into, elevate your voice above the humming meant to silence you. And never ever forget that you are enough and that you are good enough.

Kimberly Simun-Janson

Project Manager, Hearts & Science USA

City: Los Angeles
Country: USA

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
Appreciation + gratitude!

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
I believe women should feel empowered so that we won’t fear false obstacles! To dispel the fear, we must empower women through re-enforcement that we are strong and most importantly: capable.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
With champagne, obviously. But on a more serious note, I celebrate it when I’m the only female running full-court pickup games, or when I choose to speak up to a rude fellow. It’s the small, everyday actions that continue to showcase a woman’s ability to play in any arena – personal or professional.

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
Because a one-sided battle simply won’t breed a mutually beneficial result. And “there is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare” - we are past due to unite as equals and to share the same vision for the progression of women in society.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
Don’t be afraid to speak up!

Kruthvi K. Ram

Lead, Marketing Science, Hearts & Science India

City: Bangalore
Country: India

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
International Women’s Day honours the women who have paved the path towards our progress and struggled to take ‘womanhood’ to where it is now. Unfortunately, at the same time, the day is a reminder of the discrimination and inequality that still continues to plague our society. This special day, dedicated to women around the world, is a celebration of the great success of women across all spheres of life as well as shaping the future. The objective of Women’s Day is to express love and gratitude towards women’s contributions to our lives and society. It honours the power and struggles of women who have broken all barriers and reached the pinnacle of success in every sphere of life. Today, women across the globe actively participate in politics, education, social work, corporate, sports, IT, research & development, innovation and diverse fields, and have left their footprints.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
Women’s empowerment means liberation of women from the vicious grips of social, economical, political, caste and gender-based discrimination. It means granting women the freedom to make life choices. Women empowerment does not mean ‘deifying women’ rather it means replacing patriarchy with parity.

Women empowerment is important, because it strives for certain basic and fundamental rights for women, broadly termed as women rights. They roughly include, the right: to bodily integrity and autonomy; to be free from sexual violence; to vote; to hold public office; to enter into legal contracts; to have equal rights in family law; to work; to fair wages or equal pay; to have reproductive rights; to own property; to education and more.

Basically women should have every right you claim for yourself as a man.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
With every day being women’s day, I celebrate it by loving myself.

I try to build in strength within me to face challenges.
I support women who need help to build their self-confidence or self esteem
I voice out my opinion when I see any discrimination
I support and encourage all women who are working towards making themselves independent.

Laura Nice

Group Head of Consultancy and Development, Annalect UK

City: London
Country: UK

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
For me it’s a helpful moment to stop and consider women’s role at large and specifically within ‘my’ world - to ensure there’s the right balance, levels of opportunity and to be the role model I want to be for my team and importantly for my children.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
If I look at this through the eyes of my 5 year old daughter then it’s a simple one to answer – I want my daughter to feel empowered to do whatever she wants to do – whether it’s flying a rocket to the moon or learning to ride a unicorn*. I want her to feel she has the same opportunity as any of the other girls and boys in her classroom.
*Unicorns are just horses wearing hats, yeah?

How do you celebrate womanhood?
Usually with a lot of wine, followed by a lot of laughter. Getting together with the girls is an important part of my life – it helps me reset, get perspective and generally put the world to rights. Importantly i know they’re always there for me and they’ll always have my back.

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
Because we’re all part of the problem and together we can be the solution. It does need to be about support for diverse groups (not just women) and through mentoring or coaching we can enable even more brilliant leaders.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
To worry less about what other people think of you and focus on the things that matter to you. Regardless of what anyone else thinks, crack on and do it!

Nadia Zain

General Manager, PHD Indonesia

Country: Indonesia

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
It is a reminder that we are not alone and every action we take towards equality counts.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
Women are equally qualified, and it is important for women to understand their role and significance in the workplace and society.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
Self-love, because respect and love start with us. I acknowledge the challenges that I had to conquer to be where I am today, and I pledge to support other women around me, especially young women in our industry, to be more confident and fearless because nothing is impossible. #Girlpower

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
A woman’s contribution benefits much more than the woman herself. Therefore, gender equality is for society’s best interest.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
Let others think what they want to; ignore them and just keep on getting better and better.

Natasha Taylor

Head of Brand & Communication, DRUM

City: London
Country: UK

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
For me, it’s a reminder to acknowledge all the wonderful achievements women have made throughout history and will make in the future. Plus, to ask myself, what can I be doing to be a positive influence not only for the women I work with, but for my three daughters?

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
The percentage of women in senior roles is sadly declining globally. Women held under a quarter (24%) of senior roles across the world in 2018, a decrease from 25% in 2017. On the other hand, one quarter (25%) of global businesses have no women in senior management roles at all. With statistics like these, women won’t reach equality with men for many more years to come. In the creative world that DRUM sits within, only 12% of Creative Directors in the UK are female, which brings consequences for creativity - 91% of women feel dissatisfied with how brands speak to them. Having women who feel empowered, confident, successful, driven and heard is the key to reaching equality and creating a path for women to thrive. I personally want my daughters to feel they can have any career they want AND reach the top regardless of their gender.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
When I attended Omniwomen in 2017, I felt inspired to set up an initiative at DRUM called Frank You. Frank You was a networking event designed to encourage women from the communication industry to be frank with one another, sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly; sharing their career journeys in order to encourage the women of today to become our leaders of tomorrow. Over the years this has grown into an opt-in wellness and development programme that alternates between monthly workshops like HIIT Training, hypnotherapy, pilates, mentoring, to talks from inspirational and entrepreneurial people around nutrition, stress, confidence, mindfulness and creativity. It’s my little way of supercharging women, (and men now too!), to help enable them to be the best versions of themselves.

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
I feel really strongly that you judge a person based on their merit and not view them as inferior or superior purely based on their sex. Barely a week goes by without a report demonstrating how much better companies with diverse workforces perform. Many men are coming to join the party because they want to organise their work-life balance in new ways and because they want their sons as well as their daughters to be freed from the existing limitations. More equality means more effective workforces, equal parenting, equal education – it goes without saying a balanced Parliament would better reflect the needs, ambitions and experiences of the whole country.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
Find something you love doing, be brave, believe in yourself, don’t sweat the small stuff, be honest and trust your gut.

Nitu Surendran

Director, OMD Dubai

City: Dubai
Country: UAE

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
For me it's a celebration of the women's movement. It's a special day when we can all come out in strength and wear our badges, make a lot of noise, feel empowered.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
Can society sustain without Women/Girls? Obviously not, right? Women are the backbone of a nation, society, community, and a family. So, is it OK to discriminate women, even positively? No, women and men should be treated equally.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
Uplift the women around me – build their self-esteem and confidence.

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
Despite what many people assume, gender equality is not strictly limited to creating advantages for women. "Gender equality" means simply that everyone has access to the same benefits, which is why equality is an "everyone" issue.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
Dream more, worry less and enjoy every day! They fly by too quickly.

Olivia Douglas

Global Client Business Leader - Google, PHD USA

City: New York
Country: USA

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
It’s a day to stop and think. To make sure that we’re all doing everything we can and should be doing to move things forward. To appreciate each other. To remember that this matters. We aren’t done yet…

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
Because if they don’t feel empowered, they won’t actually live up to their potential. They’ll hold back. Second guess. Do what’s always been done, someone else’s way. Which means less innovation and progress for everyone.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
By never apologizing for being a woman. We are equal, but not the same. The difference in perspective is a good thing.

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
Because everyone benefits when it happens, and everyone loses when it doesn’t.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
Keep it up, because you can absolutely do this right now.

Pallavi Jayaraju

Analyst, Marketing Science, Hearts & Science India

City: Bangalore
Country: India

How do you celebrate womanhood?
By knowing we are equally important to re-shape the society.

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
As an opinion, please stop celebrating Women’s Day and start celebrating Human’s Day (Humanity)

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
Become a self-capable person so that you don’t need any dependency.
“No Eye could see you as a Weaker Race”

Parinita Chakraborty

Associate, Marketing Science, Hearts & Science India

City: Bangalore
Country: India

How do you celebrate womanhood?
I am an Army Brat so my style of celebrating womanhood is in Army style full of confidence and always alert and attentive. I rejoice womanhood every single day with gratitude in my heart for the Almighty and for my respected parents as they brought me to this beautiful world and raised me with good education and ethics. For me loving myself, helping needy, spreading happiness and excelling in my field would be a great tribute to my womanhood.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
Always feel proud of yourself no matter who says what. Just be you and love yourself what you are. You are the most beautiful girl/woman in the whole universe. Be strong in all situation and fight for your rights. If you feel anything wrong, then raise your voice and fight for it. You are the strongest and nobody can suppress you, only you need to realize that, and of course you will win.

Payal Wagh

Sr. Human Resources Manager, Annalect India

City: Bangalore
Country: India

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
It signifies that we have reached a stage where we have claimed a spot. We are no longer walking in the shadows.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
Pause, take time, look around, value your self more – good things take time. Invest time in yourself, in your loved ones & family. Make mistakes - its ok but learn! Most importantly, don’t give up on yourself.

Perecharla Ramya

Associate, Marketing Science, Hearts & Science India

City: Bangalore
Country: India

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
International Women’s day is one day of the year that recognises the value that women bring to individual communities and collectively to the world and showcases the incredible struggles of women who have paved the way for others.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
It important for women to feel empowered in various aspects like proper education along with the male, getting an opportunity to achieve something, to have her freedom of choice in her life, to be able to express her desires and opinions without fear, to feel safe and Secure, to play an equal role in decision making in the family and she should be able to stand on her own feet and faces the challenge and successfully overcome by that problem.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
To be brave any face any kind of challenges and overcome from that problem successfully.

Preethi Shivanna

Associate Digital Advertising Trafficker, GAO - UK, MGOMD

City: Bangalore
Country: India

How do you celebrate womanhood?
Being woman itself is a boon from the god, so we should proud. As women, we play many roles in our lives as daughters, sisters, girlfriends, wives, etc. Among these roles is also friend, philosopher, teacher, nanny, nurse, housemaid, entrepreneur, manager, business executive and many, many more. A wonderful example is Sudha Murthy who choose subtler professions over a fulfilling IT career.

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
Gender equality is a human right, but our world faces a persistent gap in access to opportunities and decision-making power between women and men.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
- Don’t worry about the future.
- Follow your passion, even if it does not pay very well. If you are good at what you do and love your career choice – the money will eventually follow.
- Listen more, listen better, pay attention and remember! Many people have been there and done that and can save you some headaches—but only if you listen.
If you get an idea that inspires you, act on it immediately! The best ideas are often the first to fade from memory, or get put on the backburner indefinitely.
- Expand yourself, even if you are sure where you are going. Learn something totally unrelated to your passion. Visit a place you wouldn’t normally go. A flexible mind and attitude will take you very far and allow you to handle the uncertainties in life.

Preeti Nadgar

Head of Comms Planning, PHD USA

City: Chicago
Country: USA

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
It means the celebration of the pride and honor I feel for the women who strive for a gender-equal world.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
Let me make this personal. My grandmother never attended college, my mother was told she couldn't go to grad school because the money was needed for her brother’s education. I had the opportunity and was supported by my family and my husband to get two Master’s degrees. Empowerment means a limitless sky of dreams.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
I celebrate it everyday by my three S’s: Self-love and care, Supporting the women around me and Speaking out for women, and against inequality.

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
When women rise, the world rises. An investment in women in education, the work place requires a commitment and a conversation from both men and women. Studies show over and over that educating girls moves entire families out of poverty, bringing women into the workplace changes the cultural and spiritual shape of organizations for the better, yet more men continue to be in power positions.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
Lift while you climb. Bring women with you on your path, your journey and thank those who do the same for you.

Ranjana Abraham

Analyst, Marketing Science, PHD India

City: Bangalore
Country: India

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
For me, it's a celebration of the women's movement. It's a special day when we can all come together and show our strength and wear our badges.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
Women empowerment is essential today because, before, women were not allowed to receive higher education, the society was backward, and the times were different. But now, the times have changed. Women take up the same responsibilities as men and do a wonderful job in showcasing their talents when given an opportunity to. It is necessary that they are given a chance to compete on the same level as men only to be able to benefit the employment and job spheres of our country.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
The advice that I would like to give to my younger self is that some people might give you good advice, listen to them while others don’t know what they’re talking about so we should learn to distinguish between the two.

Sameen Indikar

Associate, Marketing Science, PHD India

City: Bangalore
Country: India

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
To me the day is about recognizing and applauding the impressive work that my female colleagues and friends do every day.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
By exercising self-love and self-care.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
Wish I had more wisdom being a women whose parent supported her in every way so that I had taken better decisions when I was younger, But anyways we make mistakes and learn.

Samhita Bakre

Head – Content and Consumer Activation, OMG India

Country: India

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
Honestly, it does not mean much for me personally. It’s just a day where everyone - including your male friends or colleagues, wishes you and make you feel special with some flowers or chocolates. It’s their actions beyond International Women’s Day that truly mean something to me.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
I feel it’s important for everyone to feel empowered. Why only women? Even kids need to be empowered in their own way. Empowerment gives you the confidence and courage to do things that you desire and deserve, which leaves you with a sense of fulfillment.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
Oh, I do all things woman. Right from dressing up to being bossy with my husband at times. Jokes apart, I feel “womanhood” makes you look at things with a sensitive heart, observant eyes and a creative mind. All three are very important aspects for me, and represent strengths of womanhood.

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
It’s very simple: any “balance” is critical for a happy and healthy life. Work-life balance, mental balance, balanced diet and even your bank balance! As two elements of society, men and women can’t have an unbalanced status as it will eventually throw everything out of order, leading to an unhappy, unhealthy and unsustainable future.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
Be brave. Be confident. Never get suppressed by anyone. However, understand the difference between confidence and arrogance. You are no less than men. And that does not mean you are better than them either. Society needs gender equality, not female dominance, because if that happens, even this will disrupt the overall balance in a detrimental way. Do things that you like, freely. This could be riding a motorbike, or it could be running the house. Don’t do anything to prove a point. Do it because you enjoy doing it.

Sandhya Katiyar

Lead, Marketing Science, PHD India

City: Bangalore
Country: India

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
For me, each day is International Women’s Day because I don’t believe that any normal day would go by without the inevitable contribution of women around each one of us. But on this special day, everyone expresses love and gratitude towards women’s contributions to our lives and society. It honours the power and struggles of women who have broken all barriers and reached the pinnacle of success in life. This day is a celebration of the great success of women across all spheres of life as well as shaping the future.

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
It’s an issue because:
- Diversity leads to more varied perspectives
- Men benefit as well
- Gender equality is a step towards gender fluidity
- It reduces employee turnover
- It makes better business sense

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
Be bold and unashamed of what you believe in and what you stand for. Your thoughts and opinions are valued and needed. In your personal life, trust your instincts – follow your heart, but always take your brain with you. Be as independent as you can: financially, professionally and in your own pursuits however much you love your partner and or family. And, ultimately, it isn't about what others think or how many expectations of 'success' you've ticked off your list - it's about you and your journey.

Sandra Wells

VP A/V Investments, OMG Montreal

City: Montreal
Country: Canada

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
A celebration of achievement that have been done so far but all the effort that still needs to continue not only throughout the more developed countries but around the world as well. And there is so much left to do.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
As a human, we should not be discriminated against based on gender, or diminished based on gender either. We bring a different view on a lot of things which, at the end, can only contribute to the greater good. We need to be empowered as to raise our voices when needed.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
I do it every day by bringing up my daughter to take the stand, lead, and not being afraid of it.

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
Because different points of view can only bring more substance, depth to any issues. It cannot be just a white male point of view anymore.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
Take the lead, don’t be afraid. And remember that you don’t have to do it all by yourself. There are men out there who will embrace that view as well.

Sandya Somasekaran

Manager, Marketing Sciences, PHD India

City: Bangalore
Country: India

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
International Women’s Day, in my opinion, means the empowerment of women and celebrating their achievements. Women are now on par with men and their achievements should never be understated. Women these days are becoming more independent and trying to think of ways in which they would be able to stand on their own feet and support their family without much dependence on men. This is one major thing which is driving women to become more career oriented. International Women's Day is a collective day of global celebration and a call for gender parity.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
Women's empowerment is a critical aspect of achieving gender equality. It includes increasing a woman's sense of self-worth, her decision-making power, her access to opportunities and resources, her control over her own life, inside and outside the home, and her ability to effect change.

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
Globally, women have fewer opportunities for economic participation than men, less access to basic and higher education, greater health and safety risks, and less political representation. The actions and attitudes of men and boys play an essential role in achieving gender equality. In some places, women still lack rights to own land or to inherit property, earn income, or to move up in their workplace.

Sankalpa Ranganath

Team Lead Platform Logistics, Global Ad Operations, Annalect Bangalore

City: Bangalore
Country: India

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
International Women’s Day is more about similarities and shared goals, things we can all agree and help each other achieve. We all want to be free, to do something valuable, to be valued and to take care of ourselves. So International Women’s day is a reminder to do what we can do to truly make a positive difference for women.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
Women’s empowerment is really needed in all societies and it’s so important for women's self-esteem.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
I would love to celebrate by building a strong base to support the women around us and send the message that they deserve to be treated equally by others in every situation.

Sara Daher

Associate Director - Planning, PHD Dubai

City: Dubai
Country: UAE

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
Personally, IWD is one more day to honor the amazing women in my life, while remembering that many women continue to be unheard or discriminated against. Celebrations of womanhood sometimes focus around a generic construct, almost from a defensive standpoint, when it is the solidarity and shared experience that we need. We’ve had to work hard for recognition, that’s what we need to celebrate.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
Even in societies that have made great strides in gender equality, women are still paid less and expected to put their careers on hold to take care of their family, among many other inequalities. In a few countries, women can't participate in political life or act independently. Gender equality is very unevenly distributed and so empowerment is needed to widen what is ultimately a basic right. Empowering women is key to achieve sustainable economic and societal development.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
Celebrating womanhood is not a competition, applauding the first female ‘this’ or ‘that’. It’s not about putting a gender above the other either, it’s about realizing our full potential. The question is whether we really need to reserve a special day to celebrate womanhood. We should be celebrating our uniqueness every day.

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
Even though there’s some progress towards parity, gender imbalances are still prevalent in most companies in our region, with women facing limited career advancements and pay gaps. Yet, there are higher retention rates and greater job satisfaction when employees feel like their contribution is valued. Little progress will be made if men are not involved in a constructive and productive ‘gender equality’ conversation driven by a common interest.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
I grew up in a household where both genders were treated equally. I could do what I wanted, playing football and basketball, wearing no makeup, or helping my dad’s around the house. My parents always supported my choices. My advice would be to embrace this approach and letting go of societal norms, allowing people to choose their own path.

Shavon Barua

Chief Client Officer, PHD India

Country: India

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
I live in the hope that soon, we will not need a special women’s day; that every day will be a women’s day. But until that happens, the occasion is a great reminder to everyone that women deserve the respect, recognition and acknowledgement of equality, in every sphere of life.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
Mao Zedong said, “Women hold up half the sky”. Women are the half that makes everything complete. So, to not have the same appreciation and opportunity is injustice. Hence, empowering women is critical to creating a meaningful society. At home, at work, in every interaction - we need to feel valued. If women feel empowered, we will all build a far stronger tomorrow collectively.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
I have been lucky to have a very liberal and gender-neutral upbringing. My paternal home prayed daily to the Mother Goddess and always encouraged the women in the family to chase their dreams. I have a life partner who supports me in all my life and work goals. I am blessed with sons who respect their Mom for her overall capabilities. I am currently in a company that has very strong leadership. I have many younger colleagues who are fantastic and inspirational women. I have friends who are strong women and who are nurturing a new generation of stronger girls. I have an all-women support team at home who prove that, despite the socio-economic strata, women have the ability to fend for their entire families and themselves. Each of these blessings everyday remind me to celebrate Womanhood.

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
It is about time that it became an everyone issue. How can we even think otherwise? Strong people build strong organizations. Only the weak or intellectually ineffective will have gender issues. We are not an organization that is just about lip service. #stoptalkingstartdoing has been our mantra for quite some time now.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
I would not have felt confused or got so angry over injustices. I would have told myself that the days of the ‘glass ceiling’, ‘man’s world’, ‘alpha-male’, and of course the ‘Mad Men’ era will soon be defunct in our business and that I should not worry about being ambitious. While I did give myself all this advice and move on, my younger self would have felt much better knowing that everything was going to get much better.

Shruthi Ramanna

Analyst, Marketing Science , OMD India

City: Bangalore
Country: India

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
It’s just a usual day for me because being a woman, a daughter, sister, and someone’s love, I know that every day is just that – a women’s day. I completely respect the voice raised for women's safety and dignity. Until people (both men & women) start respecting women, it won’t become a proper start for women’s empowerment.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
Without women’s empowerment, women wouldn’t feel as strongly the equality important to the process of development as men.

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
Many countries haven’t gone far enough when it comes to giving women equal rights as men in most of the fields, like politics, tech and entertainment.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
- Self love
- Women for Women
- Don’t follow the trend - you don’t need to get married, have kids or even date regardless of what other people are saying or doing.

Sikta Das

Associate, Annalect Bangalore

City: Bangalore
Country: India

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
Just like Goddess Durga is the protective mother of the universe, every woman is special with the power to protect her family, battling with the evils around. Swami Vivekananda introduced Kumari Puja in Belur Math, Kolkata, which signifies that the power of Ma Durga prevails in every woman and they must be respected like the Divine Mother.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
I admire and get inspired by those women who help orphaned children grow up and lead a successful life . I trust this is where womanhood lies , when she takes responsibility of a child , nurtures him and help him choose the right track in life. I strongly believe that a woman is equally capable of being supportive , concerned to her family and also managing her career and occupation at the same time .

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
When my little one comes to my world , I will make sure that she absorbs the positive attitude towards life, compassionate nature that her granny , i.e. my mother has J I will help her be educated not just qualified, to be independent and also respectful to others since our education remains incomplete if we lack kindness and humanity.

Simmy Owens

Director, Business Development and Marketing, Pathway USA

City: New York, NY
Country: USA

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
It’s a time to reflect on how far women have come over time in terms of equality, access to educational and professional opportunities, ability, advancement and compensation. I think back to my mother and how different women were treated then.

It’s also a time to reflect on how much more women need to do in terms of sexual and emotional abuse, sexual preference, prejudice and overall sisterhood.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
All people should feel empowered, but women especially because they’ve often been taught otherwise, i.e. that only men are empowered to hold certain jobs, play certain sports, etc. If women feel empowered, they can achieve greater success and true equality. This is important for our future generations.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
I celebrate womanhood in the choices I make. For example, I work for a woman, most of my team are women. Every woman’s story is different and it’s important that we don’t judge each other, but better understand their journey – even if you can’t relate, it’s Important to have compassion. There’s also the feminine aspect of being a woman. You don’t need to compromise your femininity to be in the “board room”; plus looking your best often helps your confidence.

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
Equality, not just gender, is an “everyone” issue. It’s 2019 and about time we treat ALL people equally.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
- Trust your instincts
- Think through any advice you’re given and figure out for yourself if it makes sense to you
- Don’t underestimate your value and what you bring to the table – overestimate whenever possible because only then will you get what you deserve
- Aim high – just as your male counterpart would
- Stay focused on your goals and the details necessary to achieve them

Smitha Sugadha

Sr. Associate - HP, PHD India

City: Bangalore
Country: India

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
Empowerment to me is making sure that even though a woman plays various roles of a mother, wife, sister, daughter etc.. she is an INDIVIDUAL with dreams and aspirations of her own. Support her, care for her, love her and encourage her to fly high and follow her dreams.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
Isn’t it wonderful being a woman? We are more caring and loving than men for sure 😊. After a long day of work, when I come home and immediately try to put my 4 yr old son to sleep and he tells me “Mama please have your dinner, you must be hungry”, that, for me, is celebrating womanhood. It makes me so happy that he knows it is important for his Mama to take care of herself. Being a mother is wonderful but it’s just a part of womanhood. We see so many women who inspire us every day. Take life as it comes, because every day is a new day and a new celebration.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
Don’t be so afraid of what might happen. Be bolder and explore your options in life.

Sowmyashree B. J

Senior Analyst - Platform Logistics Group, Annalect Bangalore

City: Bangalore
Country: India

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
International Women’s Day is a worldwide event that is a focal point in the movement for women's rights.

It is also a day when women are recognized for their achievements– without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
1. To earn respect and create opportunities to prove ourselves.
2. To know our rights and responsibilities, and exercise our duties better.
3. To have equal access to resources.
4. To have a society which is not dominated by any gender.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
Life goes on and you can survive any failure. If you learn from your mistakes, you will come out stronger, smarter and wiser. Trust yourself. The only person who knows what’s best for you is you. So...

- Don’t be afraid to take risks
- Have courage and speak up
- Honor you feelings and body
- Value relationships over things
- Let people see who you really are
- Stop comparing yourself to others

Stephany Sousa

Account Director, PHD Canada

City: Toronto
Country: Canada

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
It is a day to officially celebrate women globally, regardless of our culture, religion, education, status, etc. It is a day to recognize the power and beauty that comes along with being female.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
We have come such a long way in terms of having a voice, and being able to make our own choices. We have to celebrate our ability to be independent, to make an example for all of the girls who will one day be women, and the boys who will one day be the men supporting them.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
I celebrate it every day by waking up, going to work, being myself. By being an example for my kids and the young women in my office. With the simple choices I make in my life that demonstrate the fact that I am a powerful human being with my own thoughts, drive, and weaknesses.

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
In order for there to be change, progress, and evolution EVERYONE must be on board. True change comes from a unified action, not just a single group of people shouting from the hill top. If men don’t support the cause then there is a divide that hinders that progression.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
You are MUCH stronger then you will ever know. You live in a wonderful country where your ambition will drive your destiny. Don’t ever be distracted by labels and do what makes you proud.

Sue Henry

People Director, OMG UK

City: London
Country: United Kingdom

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
To have a day set aside to celebrate women globally is amazing. Taking the time to celebrate how far we have come, but also recognising that there is still so much more that needs to be done.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
It is important that women feel empowered, so that they know that they can be in charge of and decide their own future They can be who they want and reach their full potential without limitations being placed on them based on their gender.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
By supporting women and encouraging women whenever possible, be that family, friends, colleagues… women in general.

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
Fundamentally this is a human rights issue. Discrimination has no place in the 21st century and every girl has the right to go to school, stay safe from violence, access health service and fully participate in her community. Gender equality ultimately benefits everyone. Countries that have greater gender equality are usually more economically successful. Organisations that have great gender equality tend to be better places to work. At OMG UK, we have a very balanced workforce of men and women with a high percentage of women on the board. It is a great and inspiring place to work.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
Have courage, don’t be afraid to speak up and know your worth. Work on making yourself happy and don’t rely on anyone else to do it for you.

Taïna Thermidor

Brand Director, Strategy, Hearts & Science USA

City: New York
Country: United States of America

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
International Women’s Day is more of a day to elevate the messages and platforms that have permeated our everyday, while also coming across as a bit of a call to action to pay attention to the issues that impact women and society—if you somehow aren’t already doing so.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
Empowered women empower everyone. There’s something really special about having the arms that wrap around you in moments when you need them to, also be the same arms that lift you up and show you your fullest potential.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
I celebrate womanhood by doing my best to support and show the power of all of the different kinds of womanhood. I’m surrounded by women of all kinds, ranging all ages—as one of four daughters, with ten aunts and a slew of female cousins. The youngest among us is one year old. Celebrating who we are as people has always also meant celebrating being women, through comradery, open conversation, and reciprocal relationships.

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
Humanity doesn’t exist without women. We give life to everything and, therefore, everyone should care about how we’re treated and why.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
I would tell my younger self to stop feeling the need to apologize for existing as you are. I have this theory that we are all born fully formed, and that it takes a lot of life to come upon the personality you had at two years old before people started to tell you that who you are is wrong. Embrace your weird, celebrate your you-ness, and don’t let the dreams you have for your life fade away. Your purpose always finds you in the end, if you stop running away from it.

Thanu Jacob

Associate Director, Technology and Measurement, PHD Dubai

City: Dubai
Country: UAE

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
Promoting the cause of women is a great initiative that shouldn’t be limited to just one day. Let’s not forget women’s rights and improved conditions are still works in progress in a lot of nations. To fulfill its own mission, IWD must not only celebrate achievements and progress but also shed light on what must still be improved.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
Empowerment helps you achieve your full potential. Strong-willed women are everywhere - working mothers, women who run a household, women who run a business, etc. Give them a choice and see them thrive.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
Growing up, I sometimes felt that there were more barriers stopping me from doing what I wanted to because I was a girl. Today, I am happy to have been born a girl, because I have learned resilience, perseverance and determination. They’ve helped me achieve many dreams and a life I am proud of.

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
Getting rid of discrimination and inequality, on any basis, requires everyone to be involved, from lawmakers to your next-door neighbor. As a society, we should empower, help and support each other so that we develop harmoniously and achieve great things together.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
If you teach young people to grow up to be kind, humble human beings, half of gender issues will disappear by themselves.

Ushmita Saha

Associate, Marketing Science - Intuit, Hearts & Science India

City: Bangalore
Country: India

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
Empowerment gives a sense of confidence as well as gives women an approach to tackle situations independently. It also gives the upcoming generations the ability to see beyond gender disparity which is an important factor for the need of women to feel empowered.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
I think the best way to celebrate womanhood is by being happily uplifting other women celebrating their success and supporting them to the maximum by understanding them and not comparing because everyone is unique and that is the beauty which one should hold.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
Being a girl or a boy is just a matter biological difference in today’s world. Any outcome that comes in our way is just a matter of difference in approach. I think the best advice that I can give to my younger self is just to not wait for any change but to be the change - to inspire and be inspired.

Venessa Quinn

Associate Director - Advertising, Resolution Media USA

City: Charlotte, NC
Country: United States

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
It’s a celebration of all the accomplishments that previous generations have achieved to get us to where we are at today and a reminder of the work we still have to do in order to improve women’s rights globally.

Why is it important for women to feel empowered?
Half of the world’s population are women and yet we still face obstacles globally such as pay inequality, gender role stereotypes and discrimination; particularly in the math and science fields. Research makes it increasingly clear that companies with more diverse workforces perform better financially. By empowering women, we can change the overall narrative and have everyone receive gains.

How do you celebrate womanhood?
I co-lead a quarterly GLOW (Growth, Leadership & Opportunities for Women) in-office meeting that is open to all genders and is meant to spread awareness about the challenges facing women in the workforce. Topics have included being more assertive in meetings, creating a more inclusive team and general open discussions about workplace obstacles and current events. With this being open to everyone, we have received some great feedback from men too. So, if your office is not already conducting these, I highly recommend that you do.

I also like to attend the annual Women’s March held in our city every January. My goal is just to show up to support the speakers and experience the positive vibes coming from everyone. I usually make a fun, non-controversial sign as a way to participate. (see pic where I quote Beyoncé)

Why is gender equality an “everyone” issue? (i.e. not just a “women’s issue”)
It is easy to bucket inclusivity or equal rights into only a gender issue but this also spans across personality types, levels of privilege and lifestyle choices. Even if it is not outwardly stated, we ALL have biases and should work to be more cognizant of them in our day to day. It is only after we are able to see them in ourselves that we can start to improve and if everyone was just a little more gentle, the world would be a better place.

What advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to being a girl/woman in this world?
You’re going to be successful but it is not “despite” being a woman. Instead, it is “because” you are a woman and, therefore, have a different perspective to share.

NOTE: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the contributors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Omnicom Media Group.