Hurray for our female colleagues! March 8 is a special day and since 2019 even a public holiday in the state of Berlin - International Women's Day. It was celebrated for the first time more than 100 years ago and was born in the struggle for equality, emancipation and the right to vote for women. Around the world it is celebrated in very different ways, our female colleagues tell us how:
International Women’s Day is very popular in Poland, especially due to its historical background. Women’s Day was very popular and much celebrated during the time of the Polish People’s Republic and in the 70s, women were always given flowers, carnations or tulips, and other goods that were not so easy to get during the communist period, such as tights, towels, coffee or even soap. It may seem hilarious looking back now but that was the reality of the past. Therefore, until today, International Women’s Day is greatly celebrated, flowers are given out on the streets, in shops etc. It is currently also connected to the feminist movement and there are a lot of demonstrations taking place in many cities of Poland. Since IT is mostly a male-dominated industry, we are always looking forward to our colleagues’ creativity on International Women’s Day. They never let us down and women always get flowers or gifts. I do feel it is nice to have and to celebrate women all over the world. However, women and men should be equally celebrated, recognized and respected each day, every day. The celebrations of mutual recognition should not be left to one day in the year only.
In Belgium, we celebrate it since 1972, we even celebrate it twice: Women’s Day on the 11th of November and International Women’s Day on the 8th of March. This year is the first time that there will be a national strike in Brussels for women’s rights. I guess that, in general, we don’t really celebrate it, but I was told that many companies give the female employees a small gift as a sign of appreciation. I am a new hire at Bechtle direct Belgium, so I don’t have any experience of celebrating this day at the office. Last year the female employees received chocolates. The Marketing department told me that we can expect something, so I am very curious what it will be this year! I think it is important that we have a day like this. In the past, women had to fight for their rights and in some countries women still have fewer rights than men. It is a good thing that we are moving towards a society in which men and women are treated equally.
I spend a few years of my life in the east of Germany, in Jena. My former boss gave roses to all his female employees. Furthermore in the supermarket, at the optician, at the bakery I got flowers or little gifts– it felt like there were flowers all over the city. And of course, I hugged all my female friends and we wished each other “Happy Women’s Day”. In the evening, when I picked up my children from day care, I was already excited for the best part of the day: They surprised me with home-made gifts and a kiss. When we wandered back home, I was tired because of all the hugging and loaded with little gifts. When I moved to the Heilbronn area, I went home empty-handed on Women’s Day. The kids still brought home their handy-crafts from Kindergarten, but these were given on Mother's Day instead. But times are changing. For the past three or four years, my smartphone has been beeping regularly on March 8th, and I've been enjoying WhatsApp and social media messages with colourful virtual greetings and funny memes from all over Germany. This week there are posters in Jena with the slogan: "More rights instead of roses."
It’s a celebration of women. Especially men thank women for being there and for making the world more beautiful and better. International Women’s Day is a traditional day and very popular in Czech Republic, mainly for older generations. But I think younger people like this day, too. Women mainly get flowers and sometimes a small present like chocolate. I don’t know if we will do something in the office, maybe the guys will surprise me and give me flowers. It is a nice day, I hope we will still celebrate International Women’s Day in the future.
International Women’s Day is not a big focus within the UK. I think it is more of a generational thing whether people know about it. For example, I think the older generation would be more aware of it due to the previous campaigns around women’s rights but, this is not such an issue in today’s society. Personally, I don’t really see the need for International Women’s Day. We have always fought to be equal with men so surely if there is an International Women’s Day, then it would seem only fair to have an International Men’s Day too? So, what’s the point? Similar to “National Stay in Bed Day” or “National Book a Holiday Day”, it seems like just another excuse to commercialise a day in the calendar. I think the successes and achievements of everyone, regardless of their gender, should be celebrated and acknowledged throughout the year, not just on one specific date.”
In Italy, International Women’s Day is a big occasion for women. Over here, the day is pretty consolidated. It is a good day to go out with the girls and talk about personal and career goals and issues. The IT field in general is more or less dominated by men, so it is important that we celebrate our success with them. We will spend the day together at the office and go out for a celebration dinner. In Italy, it is a tradition to give flowers called Mimosas to every woman for International Women’s Day. Mimosas are strong, wild plants with yellow flowers and can grow pretty much anywhere, therefore they are the perfect representation for us women. To me, International Women’s Day is an opportunity to highlight the great things women do.
Noemi Parau, Bechtle Italy
We are celebrating International Women’s day in Hungary. Many people toast their friends, partners, colleagues, and women in their families. We stand strong in many parts of everyday life and it's a special way to acknowledge single mothers, hard-working professionals, dedicated wives and of course the future generation of girls who are constantly breaking down everyday preconceptions about what it really means to be a woman in the 21st century. It's a great opportunity to recognize important women in our lives and in history and to celebrate their accomplishments and everyday bravery. At Bechtle Hungary, our managing director, and colleagues surprise us with flowers and we bring some tasty cakes and sweets to rejoice.
International Women's Day is celebrated in Austria in different forms - from no celebration to a day similar to Valentine's Day or Mother's Day. In shopping centres or public places, flowers or small sweets are often distributed to women. Museums offer free or discounted admission in some cases, and women's theme days are always integrated into the programme on television on the occasion of this day. Politicians use this day, for example, to draw attention to the imbalance between men and women or to launch campaigns for women. Personally, I do not celebrate this day, but I think it is good that there is a day when women's issues are discussed.
In Spain, International Women’s Day is a big deal. The meaning of it has changed a lot in the last two years. It used to be a day to celebrate working women’s rights, challenges overcome and records beaten by women, but since 2016 there started to be more of a focus on issues such as equal pay, equal opportunities and non-discrimination. A General Strike was called out by the main organisations of syndicated workers and by the major feminist associations for the 8th of March this year. This general strike will be supported by protests all over the country that will start in the evening, outside of working hours, so that everyone who wants to can join. The meaning of the day has changed a lot: Now we all go to protests together and join our voices to ask for a change. Hopefully, very soon, there will not be the need for that day anymore. Hopefully, very soon, it will get its festive spirit back. But as long as discrimination and inequality exist in this society, as long as women are valued less, overworked and underpaid, as long as women keep experiencing violence inside and out of their homes, this day has to exist to work together to promote women empowerment and genuine gender equality.
This day of global recognition for women has been celebrated for over 100 years. Our premier airline, Aer Lingus, offered priority boarding for all UK and International female travellers last year. The Chamber of Commerce will run a networking luncheon for all the entrepreneurs and leading Irish women in business and commerce. The global fight against sexism, discrimination, equality, and abuse is not just for the day, it’s an ongoing activism to promote financial parity, empowerment of women in the workplace, politics, access to education and basic rights. For some countries it is a day to celebrate women, for others it’s to protest in the streets, to make our voices heard. Our culture at Bechtle direct Ireland is one of inclusivity and fairness, we promote and encourage those who wish to pursue further education in order to constantly upgrade their skills which is a benefit to us as an organisation in the long term. Education is fundamental for a broader understanding. We have collectively decided to make a donation to Women’s Aid, a charity that supports women and their children, with outreach programmes, homelessness and legal support. Today, we will have a nice breakfast, then there will be a little presentation on women in history, women’s rights and the international meaning of this day. On the 19th November, which is International Mens Day, we will also do something similar.
I think that both men and women know the date in France. We hear a lot about it in advertisements, at the shop, in the newspaper or on TV. But I don’t believe that people have parties or special events, at least my friends don’t. We aren’t really celebrating this day in the office but we have a little tradition: Patrick Gorlier, our Partner Channel Manager from Dell, offers all the women of Bechtle France a white rose. Everyone knows and expects Patrick’s rose on March 8th. From my point of view, it is not the day itself that is important, it’s what it represents. In France, this day is called ‘the day of women’s rights’, highlighting the fight for women’s rights and especially the reduction of inequalities. Women fought in the past to improve our position, for example Simone Weil and her law legalizing induced abortion or Marie Curie, the first woman to receive a Nobel Prize. I recently discovered the first woman who had participated in the Boston marathon: Katherine Switzer. In 1967, at 20 years, she became the first woman officially registered for this legendary race. At that time, it was only open for men. She had registered under the name of K.V. Switzer. There are so many examples of great women and International Women’s Day is a good way to remember them. However, we must continue to reduce some of the inequalities that persist and we must do it all year long. It’s the skills that matter, not the gender.
Bechtle update editorial team
Get the best from the Bechtle update every two months directly into your mailbox. Click here to register:
Published on Mar 8, 2020.