International Women's Day 2020

On 7 June 1968, 187 sewing machinists at Ford’s factory in Dagenham downed tools and went on strike. Their goal? To receive equal pay at the factory for work of equal skill. The outcome? New pay grading at Ford and a monumental turning point for gender equality across the UK.

It was not the first strike of its kind, nor would it be the last, but the heroic actions of these women became the catalyst for the passing of the 1970 Equal Pay Act. And it also sent a clear message on the importance equality – one that even now (over 50 years later) is still inspiring people around the world as we celebrate International Women’s Day and this year’s theme: #EachforEqual.

A gender equal world

Recent years have demonstrated a significant shift in gender equality around the world: we’re seeing more women in boardrooms and in government, greater equality in legislative rights and an increase in women role-models in every aspect of life – from the Parachute Regiment to the orchestra at the Oscars.

So much has been achieved and should be celebrated, but there’s no doubt that there is still a long way to go.

The IWD 2020 campaign theme is drawn from a notion of 'Collective Individualism' and the belief that individual actions, conversations, behaviours and mind-sets can have an impact on larger society. The individual actions of Eileen Pullen, Gwen Davis and 185 women in the 60s might be considered small, but together their actions changed the course of history and impacted women for years to come.

This International Women’s Day, we spoke to colleagues across Bright Horizons to celebrate the words, actions and behaviours of individuals who have inspired them - from world leaders to family members. 

Collectively, each one of us can help create a gender equal world. Happy International Women's Day. Let's be #EachforEqual. 

My piano teacher, Judith. I met her when I was three years old. She taught me how to play over the next 15 formative years of my life and encouraged me to compete and perform in public. Her high standards of personal and professional presentation, including platform manners, live with me to this day, as does her guidance on work ethic, and that 'practice makes perfect'. Ros Marshall, Managing Director, UK

Rosa Parks. She stood up for what she believed in and what was right. It reminds us we are all equal and should also stand up for what we believe in and what's right. There's a lesson to be learnt to have the confident to have the confidence to stand our ground for what we believe in. Sarah Burge, Nursery Manager, Fulham

Jane Tomlinson, mum of three, (from Yorkshire like me). She showed so much courage and bravery after being diagnosed with incurable breast cancer at just 36 and being told she had six months to live. Over the next seven years before her death in 2007, Jane defied her diagnosis and went on to achieve what many people might struggle to in a lifetime, surmounting increasingly difficult athletic challenges such as marathons and cycling across Europe and the US, raising over £1.85m for charity. The Jane Tomlinson Appeal continues to help children to be happier, healthier and improves the lives of people living with cancer. A truly inspirational person. Mark Walker, Head of Health and Safety

Marilyn Monroe. She was beautiful, complex and fragile. Marilyn made a real impact on the world and many of her quotes still inspire women today. "To all the girls that think you're fat because you're not a size zero, you're the beautiful one, its society who's ugly." - Marilyn Monroe. Cathy, Head of Safeguarding, HR

Michelle Obama. What an inspiration, on so many levels! I think the most impressive thing is I feel I know her. She's an authentic presence, clearly guided by what she believes about humanity and relationships. That's incredibly refreshing in a world where a great number of those in the public eye simply say what they think (certain) people want to hear. Michelle Obama's warmth, calmness and vulnerability are powerful. For me, she personifies 'leadership' and we can all learn from her on using power with care. Emma Willars, Work+Family Academy Manager

My daughter. At 12 she is honest, kind to others and respectful of everyone's opinions, irrespective of who they are. Strong willed, determined and with a drive to succeed at everything she sets her heart on, my wish is that she retains her energy and uses it to make a positive difference. Needless to say, I'm one proud mum! Philippa Westly, Senior Project Manager

Dr Frances Atherton. A faculty research coordinator and senior lecturer at the University of Chester, who was my lecturer and course lead whilst studying for my Post Grad in Early Years Practice. Although I already knew I wanted to work in the sector, she inspired me to learn more about how young children learn, and the importance of what practitioners do to promote learning within the early years. Whilst lecturing, she was completing her MA in early years, and shared her research with us which really ignited the spark of learning and passing on that knowledge to others. Nichola Griffin, Bright Horizons Summerfields Manager