What we did to celebrate International Women’s Day.
International Women’s Day (IWD) may have come and gone, and as March is Women’s History Month, here at West Midlands Railway we are continuing to celebrate women as we believe every day is International Women’s Day.
What is International Women’s Day?
IWD takes place on 8 March every year to celebrate women’s achievements from the past, the present and paves the way for women in the future. It is a day to raise awareness of women’s equality and why equality is important in society.
How did West Midlands Railway celebrate?
The theme for this year’s IWD was ‘Choose to Challenge’, which represents how challenging others acts as a catalyst for change. Therefore, we took this theme to challenge our own teams across the network to come together and celebrate in a number of ways.
International Women’s Day Webinar
One of our main focuses on IWD was to play a key role internally, to speak to our teams directly on why IWD is important and to celebrate all women and their achievements.
The webinar was presented by our Passenger Information Manager, Tawhida Yaacoub, who is also Chair of our internal network group, EMBRACE (Everyone Meaningfully Broadening, Racial Awareness and Cultural Exchange). The agenda was set up to talk about the following areas:
- Introduction to International Women’s Day
- Interview with Jo MacPhail (HR Director) and Zena Dent (Engineering Director)
- Domestic violence
- Our new internal network group for women and allies
- Terminology – the good, the bad and the ugly
- Internal resources
- Q&A poll
- Discussion session for those who attended.
Throughout the webinar, guest speakers were also asked to challenge themselves and present to everyone topics that are important to them as well as make pledges to make a difference.
Depot Project Manager, Esosa Ikolo, took to the virtual stage to talk about why we hold this event globally and to showcase how far women have come throughout the years. Esosa shared her own story on her eagerness to prove others wrong at university, stating ‘if we see those who have achieved before, those who dared to dream and to dream big, why can’t we’. Esosa then made her ‘Choose to Challenge’ pledge to ‘acknowledge and celebrate achievements of all the women that I come across'. A true inspiration in our eyes!
Environment and Energy Manager, Charlotte Bryett, talked about terminology and gender issues both men and women face every day. From pet names and perceptions to gender stereotyping, her talk truly got people to stop and think about the gender terminology they use and how that can have an impact on everyone. Charlotte then pledged to ‘Choose to Challenge’ by stating ‘I pledge to call out gender stereotyping’, something that we can all do to take a step forward to equality for all’.
Other talks included Operations Standards Manager, Judith Walker, who spoke about the constant fight against domestic violence and Project Safety Business Partner, Tony Benneh, who shared his reasons on why he supports International Women’s Day and how others can be allies too.
Since the webinar, we are now championing to create a new internal network group for women and allies to support women in the business. Stay tuned as we develop plans over the next few months, starting with a brand-new name for the group.
For more information on our internal network groups, check out our inclusion agenda .
Choose to Challenge Q&A
As part of the ‘Choose to Challenge’ theme, we chose to challenge our teams to send in their ‘Choose to Challenge’ photo along with an answer to one of our IWD questions.
First up was Information Controller, Peter, who stepped up as an ally to show support for IWD.
Why are you supporting International Women’s Day?
“I’m supporting International Women’s Day because recognition is important. I see my wife day in day out working hard to make sure her work is done and done well, as well as looking after our 1-year-old who can be a handful! She has taken the lead in caring for him, sorting out the nursery, planning meals – I wouldn’t know where to start. An amazing woman and a fantastic mother – someone I’m proud to be married to. I can only imagine more amazing women working extremely hard at what they do, which is why they deserve equal recognition as their male counterparts”.
Next up was Judith Walker, our Operations Standards Manager who was keen to support the cause.
Why do you think International Women’s Day is important?
“Train driving is still a very male-orientated role – however when I started in the early 90’s it was much more unusual to see a woman driving a train to the extent that passengers actually wrote into the local newspaper! International women’s day is important to me as it celebrates women and all we can achieve, remembering how far we have come since the days of the suffragettes and to remind all that you can choose to challenge inappropriate behaviours.”
Lastly, we caught up with Passenger Information Manager, Tawhida, to create a Q&A video to help inspire the next generation of females to consider a career in the railway and to take others on a journey through her own background and how she went from a university student to a leader at West Midlands Railway.
If you are interested in a career in the railway, why not sign up for job alerts that will notify you when jobs at West Midlands Trains (operator of West Midlands Railway and London Northwestern Railway) arise?