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How the Meeting Industry Will #PressforProgress on International Women’s Day

International Women's Day

The most-talked about moment on Facebook’s social network in 2017 was not the Super Bowl or a presidential inauguration. Instead, the biggest moment was a year ago, March 8, 2017, when more than 165 million users of the social network talked, shared and posted more than 430 million interactions about International Women’s Day.

As this year’s annual worldwide observance approaches on Thursday, International Women’s Day may again rank as the most hash-tagged, most-trending and most-talked about event of this year, undoubtedly inspired by the increased awareness of important causes including the #MeToo movement, women’s health and safety, gender inequality and workplace issues.

Events are scheduled around the world on a day honoring and celebrating women behind a theme of #PressforProgress.

“Now more than ever, there’s a strong call-to-action to press forward and progress gender parity,” according to the IWD website. “A strong call to motivate and unite friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive.”

Several chapters from Meeting Professionals International have events planned on Thursday.

Amanda Armstrong, chair of the MPI International Board of Directors, is passionate about the impact of International Women’s Day, particularly in how young professional women can be mentored and encouraged.

“I think I’ve really challenged people that I know to say what are you doing to empower women that you know,” she said. “We all know someone either in our community or job or personally that is either a young girl or woman and they’re smart and they have the potential to do anything.

Are we giving them time and attention to compliment them and to say, ‘Hey that’s a real strength of yours; you should continue to do that.’? Maybe even give them opportunities to shadow you or sit at the table just to observe.” She said statistics will show low numbers of women in high-level executive roles, and change is needed.

“It’s not that they’re not applying,” she said. “I mean I think they are, but there’s a smaller candidate pool so we need to be building our bench and that starts years in advance. So, my passion and I guess my message is really look at the young women or just women in your community, and are you doing your part to give them a seat at the table to help build their confidence and build their skillset.”

The MPI Denmark Chapter will conduct an event around Girls Creating, which provides training on storytelling and encouraging people to share the stories of women who have inspired them.

“We want to encourage the many MPI members to share their story and promote the many wonderful women in this business,” said Majbritt Sandberg, CEO at PlayMyDay in Køge, Denmark.

The event aligns with United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5, which is gender equality, and Positive Impact (, a project launched by former MPI board chair Fiona Pelham.

The MPI San Diego Chapter has a networking event Thursday.

“We plan to take the opportunity to allow MPI members to ‘Tell Their Story’ of success,” said Erin Scholes, the chapter’s executive director.

The first women’s day was observed in 1909 when 15,000 women marched through the streets of New York demanding improved pay, shorter hours and voting rights. In 1975, the United Nations proclaimed the year International Women’s Year and christened March 8 as Women’s Day. It is recognized as an official holiday in several countries.

The day has evolved into a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It also serves as a call to action through events including rallies, panel discussions, seminars, networking events and performances focusing on equality.

Some events occurred last weekend, including the #March4Women in London and the International Women’s Day March and Rally in Los Angeles.

National events Thursday include the International Women’s Strike in New York City and a roundtable on the “state of the woman” in Atlanta. The entire fleet of Celebrity Cruises ships positioned around the world will ‘Ring the Bell on the 7 Seas’ in honor of International Women’s Day. The campaign is the result of a partnership with the Red Shoe Movement in support of the Gender Equality Global Initiative.

“On International Women’s Day millions of people around the world will celebrate the accomplishments of women, and the men who support their efforts,” said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president and CEO, Celebrity Cruises. “Women are breaking glass ceilings in every country and industry, and there are many, many success stories for gender parity. Yet, we have to push for even more progress, and it takes all of us working together to show the world the power of unity.”

More events can be found on IWD’s event page (

Other organizations, including IMEX, will conduct events over the next two months.

Gender equality and female empowerment will be the focus of She Means Business, an EduMonday discussion on May 14 at IMEX in Frankfurt.

The new half-day conference, created in partnership with tw tagungswirtshaft magazine, celebrates the role of women in the industry. Women from around the world will share their perspectives and meeting and event professionals, both female and male, are invited to network and learn from a packed program of highly influential speakers and mentors.

The scheduled speakers include Maj. Nicola Baumann, one of Germany’s only three female Eurofighter pilots, and Laura Winterling, a former astronaut instructor and CEO of the European Astronaut Centre, who will be talk about their successes and failures, why it’s important to be brave and challenge yourself and how striving to be your best self is an ongoing journey.

Female business leaders from backgrounds including tech, finance and the UN will share their personal perspectives on issues including empowering women in the workplace, eradicating the gender pay gap and increasing leadership positions held by women.

“Our new conference, She Means Business, has come at a crucial juncture in society,” said Carina Bauer, CEO of IMEX Group, a strategic partner of MPI. “We’ve reached a turning point where these issues have come to the fore. The next step now is to decide how to move forward, and She Means Business will provide a platform for forward-thinking women and men to come together and take action.” To learn more, go to

WINiT, a network of women and men providing career development programs, services and opportunities to women in the travel, meeting, event and exhibition industries, will host the WINiT Summit 2018 in New York City on April 28-29, the weekend prior to the ACTE Global (Association of Corporate Travel Executives) Corporate Travel Summit. Learn more at

MPI offers a four-hour course, Women in Leadership: Executive Leadership Skills, that examines the key roles women play in the hospitality and meeting industries and how to overcome career obstacles to executive-level positions. Learn more about the program and register at

The MPI Foundation has advanced the cause by awarding MPI chapters with grants that enable them to promote the Women in Leadership program.

MPI will also offer a Leadership Village at the World Education Congress, June 2-5, in Indianapolis, where leaders of all genders can find inspiration and empowering education.

About the Author

Rich Luna

Rich Luna is director of publishing for MPI and editor in chief of The Meeting Professional.