Today is International Women's Day, a time to celebrate all the wonderful achievements of women throughout the world, and to remember that there is still work to be done to reach true gender equality.
2018 is a particularly important year to reflect on just how far women have come: it marks the 100th anniversary of women receiving the right to vote in the UK. In 1918, for the first time, women were entitled to vote in elections if they were over 30 years old.
Many western countries granted women the right to vote in the inter-war years, including Germany, Poland, the USA and the Netherlands. This was largely in response to how the First World War, and female participation in the wartime workforce, changed public perceptions about what it was possible for women to do.
100 years later, in 2018, campaigns for female empowerment are still highly topical, with movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUp making headlines around the world.
It's clear that so much more needs to be done for women around the world to have true social parity with men. That's why it's important to keep the current momentum, and to make sure that strong female voices are heard at every level of society.
Bringing education to young women
One issue that we feel strongly about at Kaplan is the power of education, and how it can change the lives of those it touches. We believe that every girl is entitled to the same access to education as her male counterparts.
That's why we've been working with Plan International UK, a fantastic charity committed to improving access to education for girls. We've been involved in 2 of Plan International's projects, 1 in Sierra Leone, and 1 in Senegal.
In Sierra Leone, Plan International has trained over 480 new female teachers to help women not only participate in the education process, but help girls feel engaged in school. Plan are directly confronting a crucial barrier to girls’ education: limited access to teacher training, especially for women. Female teachers can serve as important role models for young girls.
In Senegal, Plan International has helped 1,000 girls between the ages of 9 and 16 to continue in education and realise their full potential. Awareness campaigns, school management committees and new facilities all contributed to making sure young women could get an education. Working across 16 schools, this project could have a positive impact on as many as 12,000 local community members; that's the power of a well-educated younger generation of girls!
Katharine Graham, role model
At Kaplan, we were delighted to see another powerful and influential woman being celebrated in the media recently: Katharine Graham. Katharine led The Washington Post newspaper for more than 20 years, including through its famous role in the Watergate scandal that led to the resignation of President Nixon. She was the first woman to become the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
This episode of American history, and Katharine Graham's role in it, is now the subject of an Oscar-nominated film, The Post. Played by Meryl Streep, Katharine is once again showing global audiences just what women can do!
The Washington Post Company, which owned the newspaper, was later renamed the Graham Holdings Company, of which Kaplan is proudly a part.