Every year on the 8th of March, we celebrate International Women's Day (IWD) across the globe. IWD is an annual event, which aims to encourage gender equality, and highlight the struggles and the triumphs of women.
Along with this, we celebrate the advancement of women in the workplace, their contribution to our society, and their innovation and ingenuity. Through female solidarity, participants hope to push progress in their own lives and address issues affecting women around the world.
The theme for IWD 2022 is Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow, with the themed hashtag #BreakTheBias. This year's focus is on celebrating women working together to build a more sustainable future.
During IWD 2022, we celebrate the women who have made a difference in the world, whatever their role. And one such role is that of a small business owner. The world of business is becoming ever more dynamic, especially when it comes to women starting their own companies.
The skill to operate on a global scale is one that women can learn and hone over time, but there's also a lot of support and training we can put in place to help with the process from the outset.
Removing physical barriers to productivity
The easiest way to support female freelancers and business owners is to remove the physical barriers that can hamper their growth and productivity.
As the past two years have taught us, working from home isn't necessarily easy. Freelancers and remote workers need to be just as productive as their in-office counterparts, but they rarely have the tools, training, and equipment needed to be productive. This includes things such as having a comfortable and ergonomic workstation.
It's important that individuals who work from home have a supportive physical environment. Inadequate furniture not only makes working at home uncomfortable, it also promotes all kinds of health issues, including back pain, eyestrain, headaches and more.
Luckily, there are many options available for health-promoting furniture, such as desk cycles, that can help mitigate risks to women who have chosen the entrepreneurial route.
Improving networking and business opportunities
Despite the progress we've made, women often have to deal with greater domestic responsibilities (e.g., household chores, raising children, taking care of elderly relatives) than men because we expect them to be the primary caretakers in their households. This imbalance in labour can sometimes prevent women from building a business or pursuing other interests outside the home. There are also instances where a woman's career takes a backseat to the professional ambitions of her spouse or partner.
Another disadvantage of working from home is that these women cannot network with others in their field, which can cause them to lose recognition and potential opportunities for advancement.
One way to help solve this imbalance is to provide women with more opportunities to network with others who share their interests. For example, Women Who Code is an organisation that empowers women in the tech industry. Their mission is to encourage more women to pursue technology careers, and they do so by hosting a variety of networking events in major cities around the world.
Working alone or from home can sometimes lead to feelings of isolation and depression. Therefore, another way to remove barriers for female freelancers is to encourage networking and business opportunities.
Many women who want to start their own business might not know how to go about it. They may have unrealistic notions of what it takes to start a business from home, which can cause them to get discouraged.
Therefore, it's important for entrepreneurial women to seek the appropriate support and guidance, whether that means joining a reputable business group or attending conferences.
Promoting female entrepreneurship
Women are often underrepresented in certain segments of the workforce because of gender discrimination and other barriers. But that doesn't mean that female entrepreneurs don't exist! When women can pursue their creative interests, it's great for everyone – it can create many economic opportunities for the women themselves and their families.
Women entrepreneurs are changing the world. The United Nations has noted the entrepreneurship of women as one of the driving forces in global innovation and job creation, creating businesses that use technology to solve problems in diverse fields such as health, finance, and social services. According to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), women-owned and women-led businesses represent 12.55% of total private sector employment in the UK, generating a staggering total of £221bn for the UK economy.
Globally, there's a high demand for start-ups that serve diverse markets; therefore, women-focused start-ups have the greatest potential for innovation and capital investment. We expect this trend to continue as we encourage women to learn entrepreneurial skills, launch new business ventures, and network with other female-run businesses.
This IWD 2022, the best way you can empower women is to help them succeed in their career and business. Both men and women can help women by being a visible supporter of best practices to help female entrepreneurs succeed, such as mentoring them, celebrating them, and funding them.
Women also need to be given equal opportunities to enter the workforce and be given a fair chance at success as they forge fresh paths in their careers. By working together, individuals, businesses, governments, and society can ensure that women have access to the same resources and opportunities as men.