International Women’s Day ‘Embraces Unity!’

Bermuda celebrated International Women’s Day (IWD) yesterday with an array of functions, a demonstration of the growth and popularity of, not only, the annual occasion, but the prominent roles that women continue to play in society.

Wendy Percy, IWD’s co-chairperson, spoke with great gratitude and satisfaction of yesterday’s commemoration of women and their both past and ongoing contributions to the development of society.

“It’s huge,” began Percy, as she was interviewed by TNN’s Trevor Lindsay. “I am so grateful and overwhelmed by our community.

“Katarina Hoskins was a founder of IWD and, while she’s in the UK now, to look out at the sea of people who have embraced IWD through the years is a wonderful thing.

“As you can see, we need more space. It’s sell out capacity. I’ve just got done telling you, Trevor, ‘We need larger space’, so if anybody wants to give us larger space for us to celebrate even more and to push the needle …

“I think it’s starting to have a greater impact. We still have a ways to go, but I’m very hopeful of our next generation that’s coming up.”

Percy, a founding committee member of IWD, along with Hoskins emphasised part of IWD Bermuda’s mission as being that of highlighting and stamping out biases wherever such occurs, as the group embraces this year’s stated global theme, ‘Embrace Unity’.

“We have to call out the biases,” said the Percy a key figure at global advisory, broking, and solutions company, WTW. “Everyone asked me, ‘Well what are you going to do?’ and calling out biases as they reveal themselves is probably the one way I can use my voice and feel like I am being bold and taking the risk.

“I will call you out if you’re not inclusive. We all need to move the needle. We all have to do our part.”

Percy expressed hope the ‘glass ceiling’ that has limited women in business and other areas of society traditionally reserved for men was on the way toward being permanently shattered and removed, in that women might have greater influence and society be less gender-based, but based more so upon one’s abilty in any particular area.

“I hope so I hope,” she responded when asked if women had moved beyond the metaphorical invisible barrier that prevents certain individuals from being promoted to managerial- and executive-level positions within an organization or industry. “I’m looking at my company, where we have our head of office, KIrsten Beasley as the first woman at Willis (WTW) Bermuda. “And I’m hopeful that I can look around this room and see a room full of senior leaders.

“Every year we also look to see more men at the tables here as well. This year certainly was more diverse, which we like to see, but we probably have a good ways to go.”

As for the notion of the expanding influence and roles of women coming at the expense of their male counterparts, Percy rebuked the idea of women costing male advancement, noting there to be space for both genders at the top of the pyramid.

“Oh, I think there’s room for everyone,” she said. “I don’t think there’s any question there’s room for us all.
“I don’t think it’s taking the place of, it is sharing in the approach.

“I think that in all facets of our life there is room. There is room in the corporate world. There is room in the schools. There is room in the home in teaching young ones from the very beginning.
“So we all play a part in this. We all have to play a part in this.”

As for the young female struggling in the face of male dominated areas and, perhaps, harbouring fear in the quest up the ladder, Percy advised those to try to seize the moment and conquer inhibition.

“We are all fearful of risk, but we have to embrace it,” she suggested. “I wish someone had told me in my younger years, to embrace the risk.”

IWD was staged as a part on the ongoing celebration of Women’s History Month, which is a celebration of women’s contributions to history, culture and society.

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