In Ukraine, the draft law of the non-factional deputy Olena Savchuk, in which she proposed to cancel the holidays that we inherited from the Soviet period, “made a noise.” In particular, we are talking about the holiday of March 8 – All Women’s Days. And although the draft law has a minimal chance of being passed, it again opened up a very problematic layer. What does international women’s day mean for Ukrainian women? How to celebrate it so as not to become victims of mass “hype”? Is it even worth holding any corporate events dedicated to this date? And if ignored, how not to offend women waiting to be greeted? The questions are problematic, so let’s try to find answers.
March 8: the origin of the holiday and what it has become
International Women’s Day (in its context) is very timely because, historically, it is a celebration of equality. More precisely, the movement towards equality between women and men, which, as you know, has not yet been fully achieved.
The official name of the holiday, approved by the UN, is the International Day of the Struggle for Women’s Rights and International Peace. The date is dedicated to the movement for women’s rights: gender equality, protection from sexism and violence, respect for reproductive rights, etc. For the sake of historical justice, it should be noted that the holiday was born in a socialist cell in the USA, and the USSR initiated the international celebration date of March 8 in 1977.
However, if we abstract from socialism, the key themes of the “women’s holiday” are correct. This is equality, mutual respect, and protection from oppression. And where is there even a word about mimosas, cheap postcards, and celebrations in the style of party meetings? However, it is evident that the day of equality in our realities has evolved into a bland “date” with a standard set: flowers-congratulations from men, a feast and toasts about “female happiness” (whatever that means).
The evolution of the date in Ukrainian society
It is evident that most Ukrainians associate the holiday of March 8 with typical Sovietism and is on the same level as May Day and other similar holidays. Over the years, the date has lost its traditional meaning of “the day of all tender and beautiful women.” Therefore, rumors, demands, and comments about the need for its cancellation sound more confident.
The full-scale invasion of Russia in 2022 would seem to demonstrate that such atavisms should be confidently discarded. Indeed, what can be mimosas and wishes for “female happiness” if tens of thousands of women in Ukraine voluntarily joined the ranks of the Armed Forces? If an official is justly deprived of his position for a publicly voiced phrase “weaker sex” addressed to a woman?
However, society’s reaction to the draft law on the holiday cancellation showed that many Ukrainian women are still waiting for a day off and standard greetings on “Women’s Day.” And they are ready to defend their right to “the only day of the year” to the end.
Corporate “March 8”: celebrate or ignore?
This is a problem because if:
- the company initiates the holiday according to the traditional scheme, not everyone is “gentle and beautiful” in appearance, but strong-willed and confident professionals will like it. Therefore, different levels of risks are possible: from disgruntled comments on social networks to publications in the mass media and severe reputational losses;
- the company thoroughly ignores the date, then it will cause dissatisfaction among women waiting for a greeting. It can be enhanced if competitors/company from the neighboring office holds a celebration. Dissatisfaction can affect motivation and work efficiency, cause frustration, and a split in the team.
In both cases, there are direct challenges to the employer brand.
Return the sacred value? Really!
Companies should not ignore the holiday. And at the same time, it can be safely distanced from the Soviet Union. We offer to fill the day of March 8 with new content. Even more: to return this date to its actual historical value.
Here are a few examples of celebrating “Women’s Day” in new realities:
- organization of a support campaign for girls (women) serving in the ranks of the Armed Forces;
- activities that make it possible to understand the importance of the holiday: equality, not “mimosas”;
- engaging training or master classes where women could discover new skills or try new roles;
- charity event organising to care for elderly women, for whom March 8 still has a “traditional” meaning for them.
What will it do? Such corporate events will start the mental transition of the team from the “traditional” perception of the holiday to the actual values it declares. And, of course, the adequately organized activity aims to unify the team, motivate, and foster corporate spirit.
Progressive companies should demonstrate an equality policy more than one day of the year. The equal involvement of women and men in management positions, the same level of salaries, the elimination of stereotyping in the selection of candidates by gender and marital status, the presence of children, etc., will weigh much more than the “women’s holiday” organized once a year. And the holiday of equality and spring should be left, filled with relevant and timely accents. After all, positive reasons and exciting events have never hurt anyone. How to organize high-quality events to support corporate culture? Please read the article or contact our managers for advice.
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