To celebrate International Women’s Day, the Women’s Portfolio presented ‘Press for Progress’ on March 13th 2018 at the Ismaili Centre. A distinguished panel of change makers reflected on progress made, called for change and celebrated acts of determination by women from all walks of life, who continue to play an extraordinary role to effect change for others. 

Motivating, thought provoking and empowering were just some of the words used to describe the 2018 International Women’s Day event, organised by the Women’s Portfolio, in commemoration of the Diamond Jubilee. Attended by over 160 guests, the theme for this year’s event was Press for Progress – a call to action to press forward and progress gender parity.

International Women's Day, annually celebrated on March 8th is a global endeavour, celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women from all walks of life. A time, also, for reflection, advocacy, and most importantly action.

This year the Women’s Portfolio presented their call to action on March 13th at the Ismaili Centre, London.   The evening commenced with an uplifting musical performance from the Ismaili Community Ensemble followed by opening remarks from Nazreen Visram, National Council Member for the Women’s Portfolio, in which she explained that despite the fact women in the UK won the right to vote 100 years ago, the World Economic Forum Report published last year says that gender equality is still 217 years away.

Nazreen explained: “this agenda requires collective responsibility – all of us, both men and women, to be bold, to be brave, move this agenda forward and to motivate change for our communities and for our children and their children, from generation to generation.”

Joining Nazreen in conversation on pressing for progress that evening, were three inspirational panelists - Farah Mohamed CEO of Malala Fund, Jane Duncan, Royal Institute of British Architects and Jagdeep Rai, Head of Corporate Banking, Barclays, with the brilliant Rupal Kantaria from Oliver Wyman as moderator.  These incredible women with their open and witty conversation engaged the audience with their personal stories about the challenges they have faced, how they have overcome them and how they are supporting others to achieve their goals.  They encouraged the audience on the merits of paying it forward – a simple hand held out to someone who asks for advice; or meeting over a cup of coffee for career support – these small gestures will always help women move forward.  Their words left the audience compelled to facilitate positive change, and make their own pledges for progress.

In his closing remarks National Council member for the Youth and Sports Board, Al Karim Nathoo, demonstrated the significance of male role models and how as a father he has a key role to play in addressing gender parity.

So how will YOU continue to press for progress?  As the indomitable Mother Theresa once said “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples” .

Individually, we're one drop but together we're an ocean. Commit to a "gender parity mindset" via progressive action. Let's all collaborate to accelerate gender parity, so our collective action powers equality worldwide.