International Women’s Day: Not Just One Day But Every Day
7 March 2019 | Catherine Best, Queen's Nurse
The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day #BalanceforBetter aims to create a balanced world in which women can take their rightful place within society and meet their full potential, creating a better world, not just for women, but for everyone.
With its first gathering taking place in 1911, International Women’s Day is celebrated annually on 8 March. This global campaign however continues all year round and encourages everyone to be actively involved, every single day in making the world a safer and more balanced society, where women’s equality is no longer an issue for debate; because equality has been achieved.
Women across the globe have fought hard to make their lives and the lives of their families better. In the UK, the matchstick women took their fight to Parliament and won, as did the suffragettes and the chainmakers of Cradley Heath. Their actions have had positive repercussions for years to come.
Nurses in Action
Nursing too is no stranger to taking action. Much of the work of the QNI focuses on policy development and campaigns that aim to improve not only the needs of patients, but also the health and wellbeing of community nurses.
Today it is firmly recognised that nurses play a significant part in not only the health and wellbeing of all citizens, but also in meeting the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals. In their most recent report the UN explores the significant improvements made, but warn that there is still a long way to go to achieving the 2030 agenda.
In December 2018, the Transforming Perceptions of Nursing and Midwifery programme was renamed Nursing Now England by the former Chief Nursing Officer for England, Professor Jane Cummings. Why not become an Ambassador? Or follow this exciting journey #NursingNowEngland, #FutureMidwifery, #teamCNO.
By becoming Ambassadors, women can make a unique contribution in developing their leadership skills and take on roles that change the way in which board decisions are made and healthcare is delivered. Women in nursing still have a long way to go, however, for the number of women in NHS boardrooms are still not on a par with men, as evidenced in the 2016 publication NHS Women on Board 50:50 by 2020. Furthermore, although it is clear that the gender divide is narrowing, it remains evident that men are still in the majority of senior roles.
Taking the Lead
Nurses, make 8 March the day that you think about your career. All nurses have the skills required for leadership positions: we are problem-solvers, decision-makers and we work collaboratively to ensure the delivery of high-quality patient care. And we undertake these roles every single day. What is it however that makes a good leader?
If you want to open up opportunities that enable you to become a healthcare leader and to be involved in promoting service delivery that improves the patient experience, talk to your manager. Record your intentions in your appraisal and don’t be afraid to think big! Explore educational opportunities that can help to improve your CV. But it’s not only educational opportunities that are important, but also your experience. Creating change in your life doesn’t have to be daunting, it just has to be manageable.
By creating #BalanceforBetter in your life, you are ultimately becoming an ambassador for all women, who not only want to make a difference in their own lives and those of their families, but also of everyone in the wider community.
Be the woman and the nurse you want to be and do it boldly!
Catherine Best, Queen’s Nurse
Lecturer at the University of Bradford