Black background, sketch of a woman in white colour, a gold shield and the words International Women's Day

The conversations we should be having this IWD

Publication date
Thursday, 9 Mar 2023

There has been a lot written about how the coronavirus epidemic disproportionately affected women. According to the World Economic Forum, however, lingering economic uncertainties and escalating crises continue to impede global efforts to close the gender gap.

While New Zealand sits among the top 10 world economies to have closed at least 80% of their gender gap (84.1%), Australia lags behind its global peers when it comes to the workforce participation of women — slipping from 12th in 2006 to 70th in 2021, according to the WEF.

What does this actually mean? Recent LinkedIn data reveals women hold fewer than a third of leadership roles globally. This gap widens as women rise through the ranks, underling the need to address the challenges and barriers that impede women’s advancement in the early stages of their career.

What is needed to drive equitable outcomes for women at work?

Today, we reveal the conversations professionals should be having this International Women’s Day to regain momentum and drive meaningful progress towards gender equity, according to our students and staff of CPAS. 

Ella, Honours Student

Ella hopes that #IWD2023 will be continue to be more inclusive. She believes that we are more when we include everyone. Support for women, transwomen, and non-binary people, has to come socially, structurally, and systematically. 

Woman hugging herself with a quote.


Emily, PhD Researcher

For Em, IWD is important because of the way our conversations are still framed. We talk about diversity and inclusion encompassing who is in the room, and making sure all the voices can be heard, but we don’t talk about who built the room we are invited into. Women don’t need to be empowered in the world, we don’t need to be more resilient, we have everything we need to succeed and shine except the space to do so safely. Intersectional women are given even less space than those of us privileged enough to be born cisgendered, white and in English-speaking households.

She also wanted to give a shout-out to the late Dr Penny Whetton. Her dedication to climate change science, and her genuine thoughtfulness as a human being are inspirational.


Woman smiling with a dog and a quote below.

Lingfei, Visiting PhD Researcher

Lingfei shared a quote by Guimei Zhang who set up China's first all-fee girls‘ high school, who rooted in poor areas for more than 40 years to give children in the mountains the opportunity to study and fulfil their dreams of university. These two sentences are the motto of the school, "I was built to be a mountain not a creek, rising to the high peaks with the small valleys at my feet. I was born to be great, not worthless, standing on the shoulders of the giants, the petty cowards beneath me".
Woman teacher holding a phone in a classroom with a quote below the image.

Rini, Research Fellow

As a human geographer, she wholeheartedly celebrate International Women's Day as a platform to acknowledge and honor the remarkable strides made in advancing women's rights and leadership. It is a day to acknowledge the progress made towards gender equality and to recognize the critical role that women play in creating a sustainable and equitable world.

This special day is also an opportunity to pay tribute to progressive women's grassroots groups, particularly those from the Global South, who have dedicated themselves to the fight against dispossession and violence from extractive industries/activities. These groups have inspired me with their tireless efforts, and she is in awe of their resilience and unwavering commitment to socio-environmental justice.

International Women's Day serves as a powerful reminder to reflect on what inclusive development truly means. For me, it extends beyond simply engaging women and encompasses implementing structural and systemic changes that foster an environment where women can thrive, grow, and lead transformational change towards an equitable world. Women's rights and leadership are crucial in realizing sustainable and transformational development, and it is imperative that we continue to advocate for and invest in women's empowerment and inclusion to achieve social equality and a better world for all.

She shares this open access book on women in science for some who might be interested:

Woman smiling in a library with a quote below.

Rita, PhD Researcher

Rita believes that women's issues have long been minimised and marginalised. She thinks it's crucial to come up with ways to highlight these issues and provide practical solutions. The importance of celebrating Women's Day comes from the opportunity it gives to do this on a global scale. Beyond the social construct of men and women, there is the fact that they are also unique individuals with differences in upbringing and financial backgrounds that affect how they live. Opportunities are influenced not just by gender but also by physiology, socio-cultural background, and economic status. In my view, achieving equality is not enough to achieve fairness between gender. Gender equity allows for policies and practises that take into account each woman's uniqueness, which is, in her opinion, the actual essence of inclusion because it is more inclusive of contextual elements.

A quote she lives by is "I decide how I live as a woman."

A headshot of woman with a quote below the image.

From closing the visibility gap to creating psychologically safe workspaces that empower women on their career journey, these CPAS voices share their perspective on what’s needed to drive the next wave of change. What will you do to embrace equity in the workplace or even in your own communities?