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International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, as well as highlighting and challenging gender inequality that women continue to face.
On the 8 March, NHS Digital is hosting a range of events to celebrate the day and start conversations on topics that have previously been seen as taboo to discuss. A report by the Women at Work All Party Parliamentary Group found that ‘many employees do not feel comfortable talking openly about their menopausal symptoms at work’. The events we are hosting aim to challenge this and create a more inclusive environment.
We talked to Rachel Habergham, Programme Head at NHS Digital and Chair of the Women’s Network, about the importance of International Women’s Day.
Why did you decide to get involved in the Women’s Network?
I had been a silent member for a while and then I undertook a women in health leadership course and started to reflect more on my role as a leader and as a role model. The role of chair became vacant and it provided an ideal opportunity to bring together my passion for building an inclusive workplace and my desire to inspire women.
What does International Women’s day mean to you?
It provides a great opportunity to highlight the challenges women continue to face and gives us the chance to have difficult conversations or conversations that are seen as taboo. This year it feels even more significant as research is indicating that the move towards equality in the workplace may have taken a step back as a result of the pandemic.
Why is it so important to celebrate?
It is important to highlight the many gaps that are still existent all around us, both in the workplace and more broadly in society. This also needs to be balanced with highlighting the inspirational stories we see about women every day.
What is the significance of International Women’s Day to NHS Digital and the industry in general?
Within the technology space, there is still a long way to go if we are to achieve true equality. International Women’s Day provides an opportunity to celebrate success, highlight areas we still need to challenge and enables important conversations that are required if we are going to continue to improve the current position.
What is NHS Digital doing this year to celebrate the day?
We have a range of activities planned and have partnered with Skills 4 for a ‘Boost Your Career’ workshop. This will really help women take control and ownership of their career aspirations, highlight the importance of professional image and reputation, and enable them to set clear career goals.
As well as this, we have a number of activities relating to the menopause, including the launch of a menopause toolkit. The menopause is still a taboo conversation, so we really want to highlight this and start the conversation, especially with managers. We will be joined by presenter’s Dr Clare Spencer, GP and NHS Menopause Specialist, her colleague Helen Normoyle, and Nutritional Therapist and author of ‘The Happy Menopause’, Jackie Lynch.
Our early talent members have also completed an inspirational video that highlights the importance of female role models and the significant gender gap in specific professions such as cyber security and software development.