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On March 8, businesses and individuals celebrated International Women’s Day around the world, highlighting success and recognising what still needs to be done. At Cognito, we spent an enjoyable morning with female colleagues and friends of the agency to reflect and share stories of inspiration. 

This year’s theme “each of equal” poses sometimes vexing questions. While it is important that women use International Women’s Day to celebrate, talk, or go for a nice breakfast, an equal world should not be seen solely as a “women's issue”.

Some argue this means International Women’s Day is a now outdated concept. What is the day for? Does it lack purpose? We should absolutely use it to celebrate women’s achievements, but this will only have an impact if we look beyond just one day. We need to recognise that problems still exist. Yes, things are better, but IWD is a good time to benchmark accomplishments and set new goals for the year ahead.

Our Cognito breakfast was at at beautiful venue in the City right beside Bank. Unfortunately – if somewhat predictably – our table of female businesswomen were surrounded by an awful lot of men in suits. Do women hate breakfast? (I personally don’t believe this.) Did we pick the wrong day? 

We wanted to celebrate progress and achievement – from small wins and highlights from the previous week to discussing changes in how we recruit or think about flexible working. 

Everyone at the breakfast brought a book that had inspired us either professionally or personally which proved to be a good way to reflect on some of these issues. Our recommended reads include:

  • The Girl with the Louding Voice – Abi Dare

  • Airhead – Emily Maitlis

  • She Speaks – The Power of Women’s Voice – Yvette Cooper

  • The Book of Gutsy Women – Hillary Clinton, Chelsea Clinton

Outdated or not, International Women’s Day means we all came away with an extended reading list that will certainly keep us busy should we need to self isolate anytime soon. Perhaps one day isn’t enough to fix it all, but recognising how far we have come is important, even if there is more to do. 

Kirsty Howe is an account manager at Cognito