Co-op marks International Women's Day

International Women's Day is celebrated on March 8 every year. The day celebrates women's achievements an raises awareness about discrimination.

By Laura Linham

Posted: Wednesday, 08th March 2023 9:00 am

Co-op marks International Women's Day
Co-op marks International Women's Day
Big seasonal moments

It's International Women's Day and across Somerset, people are celebrating all of the inspiring women who are creating change and making the world a better place for future generations.

International Women's Day is celebrated across the globe on March 8 every year. The day celebrates women's achievements, raises awareness about discrimination and encourages people to #EmbraceEquity.

This year's theme is #EmbraceEquity. The IWD website states: "For International Women's Day and beyond, let's all fully #EmbraceEquity. Equity isn't just a nice-to-have, it's a must-have. A focus on gender equity needs to be part of every society's DNA. And it's critical to understand the difference between equity and equality.

"The aim of the IWD 2023 #EmbraceEquity campaign theme is to get the world talking about Why equal opportunities aren't enough. People start from different places, so true inclusion and belonging require equitable action. Read more about this here. All IWD activity is valid, that's what makes IWD inclusive."

The Co-op, who sponsor Nub News, have been marking the event.

Transforming colleague development at Co-op

Kerry Jary, the Learning and Development Campaigns Manager. said they and hold regular activities, workshops and special events throughout the year, as part of their Aspire network. These include International Women's Day celebrations, book clubs, menopause coffee mornings, financial education sessions and roundtable discussions.

"Aspire has created a safe space for our colleagues to be themselves and to network with like-minded individuals, whilst promoting women led initiatives at every level of the organisation," she said. "I'm extremely proud of all our volunteers whose hard work and dedication have enabled us to make a positive difference to our colleagues and the business."

Avon and Somerset Police have been highlighting some of the incredible women working in their ranks, such as Inspector Jo Haywood-Melen, who says: "Ever since I was a really young girl, I wanted two things more than anything else in life – to be a police officer, and to win an Olympic medal."

She is an Inspector at Avon and Somerset, currently overseeing the mounted, dogs, dive and firearms unit, collectively known as TST.

"My journey in judo started at age seven. From there, my career took me all over the world competing for both Wales and Great Britain on an international stage. I'll always remember one occasion leaving from the Welsh Institute of Sport in Cardiff and heading across the channel – it was only after two days of travel that I asked my coach where we were going. Belarus was his reply.

"As my career developed and I experienced more and more success, representation at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games was on the horizon. Sadly, a potentially career-ending knee injury the year before the games ended that dream, being told that I would likely never compete again. For three years I underwent complex knee surgery and had to set a new goal – a medal at the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games.

"It was also during this time that my career in policing began, as a PTI and civilian officer safety trainer with South Wales Police. Becoming a PTI was the perfect opportunity as it allowed me to use my fitness and judo skills in a different arena. South Wales Police also supported me by enabling me to take a career break in the lead up to the Manchester Games.

"I won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester and although it's not the Olympic medal that I longed for so much, over time, I've come to accept that had I not had my injury, and started working for South Wales Police, I may never have gone on to pursue a career in policing.

"So now, long after my competitive career is over, I am still able to use many of my experiences as an athlete within policing. One of the questions I get asked a lot is "have you ever had to use your judo out on the streets?" Thankfully, although there have been a few occasions where my judo has come in handy, more than anything, my experiences as an athlete have always been a great conversation starter and have helped to de-escalate volatile situations. I think that martial arts certainly give you far greater confidence to talk to people and resolve situations without having to use force.

"The theme of International Women's Day 2023 is 'Embrace Equity' and that's something I can relate to in judo. Although I turn fifty next year, I still train and fight just as hard as I did, with both women and men. Policing has also given me a great deal too that I can now take into judo. I sit on the Board of Directors for Welsh Judo and the skills I have gained through policing certainly help me to direct the strategic direction for future young athletes within the sport. Who knows, perhaps one of them will one day win an Olympic medal. I very much hope that's the case."

At St John's Infants School and Jumping John's Nursery in Glastonbury, they've been busy updating the library to include books about influential women throughout history and will be encouraging the children to speak about positive female role models during classes today.

St Dunstan's School in Glastonbury marked the day with a special event by inviting mums, carers, grand, sisters and families into the school for collaboration, confidence building and creativity - as well as a chance to spend some quality time with their loved ones.

Striking the #EmbraceEquity pose, Lib Dem Somerset Councillors have shown their commitment to ensuring gender equity and the important role it plays in creating a truly inclusive community.

 Councillor Sarah Dyke, Lead Member for Environment and Climate and Parliamentary Candidate for Somerton and Frome, said:

 "Women are not a minority, we account for over half of the UK population, yet in both politics and public life in the UK, women have historically been underrepresented. There are currently only 225 female MPs in the House of Commons. At 35%, this is an all-time high, but legislative representation is not yet balanced. It seems extraordinary that there have been less than 400 women MPs in total since Nancy Astor was the first woman MP to take her seat in parliament in 1919.

 Politics often excites strong emotions and politicians occasionally make unpopular decisions and they must be prepared to answer for those decisions. But what they shouldn't have to be prepared for is a stream of threats and harassment. Just over 100 years ago, Nancy Astor had to push past jeering male colleagues in the chamber to get there and now women MPs often cite abuse as a factor in their decision not to stand for re-election.

 It seems appropriate therefore that the theme for this year's International Women's Day is "Embrace Equity". The March 8th event honours women of the past, present, and future generations who have fought for change in gender equality. Equity is not just something we say or write about. It's something we need to think about, know, and embrace. It's what we should believe in, unconditionally. Equity means creating an inclusive world and never more so in politics, which needs women representatives at all levels, from Parish to Parliament to stand for election and become decision makers in their communities. So my hope is that more women from all sorts of backgrounds get involved – women's voices matter."

  • This year International Men's Day is on Sun, Nov 19, 2023


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