Why International Women’s Day matters for marketers

by | Mar 5, 2024 | Uncategorized

This year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) presents marketers with many opportunities, but as with power, opportunity comes with great responsibility.

IWD is an annual global campaign that celebrates women’s achievements and celebrates progress towards gender equality, while also highlighting what is yet to be done.

The theme for 8th March 2024 is Inspire Inclusion; the focus: celebrating diversity and empowerment and breaking down barriers and stereotypes.

It’s important to say, first off: IWD is not just about women speaking about women’s things; men also need to advocate for gender equality and champion change to accelerate progress.

Gender parity is everyone’s responsibility, and a more diverse workplace is good for everyone.

Contrary to the assumption that it’s women who want flexible work, McKinsey’s 2023 Women in the Workplace report found that both men and women rate it in their top 3 employee benefits.

This matters to marketers, because satisfaction and morale among all employees is essential for effective internal communication and employer brand.

And those two things are prerequisites for making the most of the opportunities IWD offers.

IWD provides a forum to engage

By sharing stories which celebrate employee achievements or talk about the work an organisation is doing to benefit women, marketers can generate conversations that drive authentic connection and propel people to take action.

Poorna Bell attributes the lack of physical activity among South Asian women in England and Scotland to several factors, a significant one being the lack of visibility of South Asian women in mainstream fitness – the humiliating memory of 1990s gym knickers is another, but that’s a whole other post. I highly recommend reading her book ‘Stronger’ in which she talks in more detail about her journey to becoming an amateur competitive powerlifter.

Content around IWD that addresses the real challenges faced by women can have widespread appeal. If you can inspire other women to ‘be what they can see’, to break stereotypes and barriers that hold them back, so much the better.

It focuses attention on a key audience

With women thought to drive 70-80% of consumer purchasing decisions, IWD provides a great opportunity to better understand this demographic.

By engaging or research to gain insights into their motivations and pain points, you can tailor communications and shape your products and services to meet their needs.

Do this better than your competition and your offer will be the one that stands out.

The Market Research Society has some helpful guidance for carrying out more inclusive research.

It’s an opportunity to demonstrate values

If you’re an organisation truly committed to gender equality and equity, IWD is also an opportune time to talk about your values as a brand and engage consumers – especially those for whom an organisation’s commitment to social responsibility is a necessity.

It can’t be about sales. It has to be genuine.

As Tanya Joseph, architect of This Girl Can said in a 2018 article: ‘International Women’s Day isn’t yours to celebrate unless you are truly committed to doing something to improve the lot of women.’

These are some of the questions you should ask of your organisation before launching any IWD campaign:

  • Do you have good female representation? Is this true at all levels of the organisation?
  • Is there a gap in what women are being paid relative to men?
  • Do you provide genuinely flexible working opportunities?
  • Are the opportunities you provide equitable, not just equal i.e. Are they fair in relation to individuals’ circumstances?
  • Do women have an equal voice in the organisation?

I would add, with gender being increasingly fluid: are you doing these things for all employees?

The IWD’s video ‘What if different genders switched for the day?’ is a humourous but thought-provoking reality-check, and there’s an accompanying teachers’ discussion guide

Demonstrating values starts with role modelling them.

It can guide decisions on collaboration

Collaborative arrangements can have multiple benefits, regardless of whether it’s with non-profit organisations, female spokespeople or female-led/gender equal businesses.

Partnering up with those who are truly values-aligned can help to amplify and authenticate your voice on IWD.

It can also increase your impact.

Weetabix’s partnership with the Football Association for Wales is a nice example. By supporting the all-girls football initiative ‘Huddle’, Weetabix has enabled more than 6,000 girls to access and enjoy football. My daughter is one of them.

This and other collaborative arrangements have enabled FAW to achieve 89% growth in girls’ participation in football over the past 5 years.

It’s a chance for reflection

Most of us have made seemingly innocuous gendered comments at some point. While it’s human nature to categorise to a certain extent, we all have a responsibility to check that our comments aren’t inadvertently perpetuating gender stereotypes.

As marketers, IWD presents an opportunity for us to look at how we talk about and to people in relation to gender. For example:

  • Is your language inclusive? Do you use terms that are gender-neutral e.g. ‘We need a new chairperson’ (not chairman)
  • When recognising an individual’s strengths, do you ever relate it to gender? E.g. ‘He’s quite empathetic, for a man.’
  • Do you challenge gendered comments? E.g. If someone says ‘That’s women for you.’ would you respond: ‘I think it’s just some people’.

Don’t get me started on the roots of gender stereotyping. (‘No, she’s not a tomboy; she’s adventurous and strong-willed – like her mother!’)

If you want to understand how to be more inclusive in your language generally, Oxfam provides a super helpful language guide.

As marketers we have a role to play in making sure we celebrate IWD responsibly. What will you do to Inspire Inclusion this IWD?


See the IWD website for loads of free resources and templates to help you plan your approach.


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