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Corporations have hijacked International Women's Day - let's remind them what the day is really about

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International Women's Day is for celebrating women's achievements, recognising progress and calling for change. It is not for companies to commodify and profit from women’s inequality.

Women still face significant discrimination in society, specifically in the workplace.

We are still paid less than men, we are still penalised for having a family, we still lose out because workplaces have failed to accommodate our natural ageing process and we still disproportionately experience violence within the workplace.

With the gender pay gap currently sitting at 15.4 per cent, the average woman effectively works for free for nearly two months of the year compared to the average man.  

Every year 54,000 women are forced out of the labour market due to pregnancy and maternity discrimination.

One million women have been forced to leave their jobs due to the lack of support for them while experiencing menopause. 

Half of all women experiencing sexual harassment at work, rising to 7 in 10 for disabled women. And one in eight LBT women have experienced serious sexual assault while at work. 

These statistics not only show just how much work there still is to do to ensure women have equality in the workplace, but they also highlight the fundamental role employers must play in order to achieve it.

And this goes much further than tokenistic International Women’s Day celebrations, primarily used to increase sales. Too many corporations pay lip service to this day, while failing to actually support the women in their own workforce.

That’s why this International Women’s Day, the TUC is encouraging people to reply to marketing emails from companies and ask them what they are doing to support women at work.

We want to put these companies on the spot. To make them realise what International Women’s Day is really about and to get them to look inwards and challenge their own standards around equality in the workplace.

If brands and corporations say they support equal pay, we want to see their gender-pay gap action plan. If they claim to support working parents and carers, we want proof that they advertise all jobs as flexible.  

We cannot afford to be complacent about women’s equality at work, here in the UK or internationally.

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