Friday 8 March marks International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women everywhere. This year’s theme is #PressForProgress, something that we feel passionate about at Registers of Scotland. Embracing progress is part of what we do, whether it’s going through a digital transformation, encouraging diversity amongst our workforce or implementing smart working across our offices.
Back in October 2017, RoS hosted the Registrars of Title Conference (ROTC), in Edinburgh. This allowed us to collaborate with and learn from specialists from land registries across the world. As part of our International Women’s Day celebrations, we got in touch with our female colleagues from the across the globe, to see what International Women’s Day means to them.
What does IWD mean to you?
Starting our international journey in Western Australia, Susan Dukes, who is the Western Australian Commissioner of Titles at Landgate, described International Women’s Day as “an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women throughout the world.”
Cheriese Walcott, Registrar of Titles in the Land Titles Division at the National Land Agency, Jamaica, agreed, saying that “International Women’s Day is a celebration of our resilience and courage. [It’s] a day of reflection as we look back on the heroes who came before us in the fight for equality, and we look forward to the future we want our daughters to inherit.”
Reflecting on the past and looking to the future was a key theme from many of those we spoke to. Marina Sinclair-Chin, from the Law Society of Scotland, agreed that International’s Women’s Day is both about reflecting on the past, and looking to the future, describing it as a day designed to “celebrate all of the amazing women of the world – past and present – but also to reflect and raise awareness of the many issues still faced by women across the globe.” Stephanie MacLean, Deputy Registrar of Titles at Jamaica’s National Land Agency, also sees it as an opportunity to recognise the various struggles that women across the world face, describing the day as “an opportunity to recognize that there are still societies where women and girls are marginalized and deprived of basic rights, such as education,” going on to express how she is grateful for her own experiences, saying: “I am grateful to be a professional woman living in a modern, progressive country and to have been influenced in my personal life by independent, purpose-filled women. I was fortunate to have had empowering examples of women in various leadership roles throughout my civil service career.” Danusia Cameron, Director, Contracts and Regulation at the Office of the Registrar General, New South Wales, agreed, saying, “International Women’s Day is our day to celebrate women, to reflect how far we have come, and to remember our sisters across the world who still lack opportunities.”
Many colleagues reflected on their experiences as a woman in the workplace. Doris Cheung, who is Land Registrar at the Hong Kong Land Registry, expressed that she is proud “that the HKSAR Government plays a pivotal role in empowering women,” stating that, in Hong Kong, “The protection of women’s rights is enshrined in statute and gender mainstreaming and is adopted in policy formulation and service provision.”
Liz Dann, Registrar of Titles at the Department of Natural Resources, Queensland, stated that she has “been supported along the way by many wonderful role models, mentors and friends.” She also reflected on her early experiences in the workplace, stating: “I have also had to deal with some atrocious conditions (in my early career) that some of those same well-meaning and good people were completely blind to, but that I was too naive to say anything about: If only I had the confidence I have now, back then.”
Liz Pope, CEO in the PRA, Ireland, also highlighted the importance of progression in the workplace: “International Women’s Day for me is a chance to reflect on the role of women in society and specifically in the workplace since I first joined the Civil Service in 1986. The workplace has improved dramatically in that time, with the gradual expansion over the years of family friendly policies to support both women and men juggling a work life balance. Some of the barriers still preventing women from progressing further in their careers can range from lack of confidence to lack of opportunity.”
Anisha Nag, a student who has worked for 2 summers as policy and programs assistant for the province of Ontario, emphasizes the importance of support from within the workplace; “The Ontario Public Service offers employment opportunities to young people to develop their professional goals, and this program has been invaluable in furthering my own goal of a career in law. Programs like this are needed around the world to encourage young women to enter the civil service.”
Connie Fair, CEO at the Land Title and Survey Authority, British Columbia, also emphasised the importance of confidence and self-belief. She said: “Personally, I have never doubted my abilities. Sometimes I think women limit themselves by doubting themselves. It never occurred to me that I might not be able to do something. If I didn’t know exactly how I would achieve success given a particular opportunity, I knew I would figure it out when necessary.”
The topic of motherhood was also touched on by a number of our colleagues. Kadri Laud, Adviser of Land Registry at the Ministry of Justice in Republic of Estonia, stated: “Working in the civil service has been a constant learning process which includes many academic years but the best lessons come with the experiences and stepping out of the comfort zone. As a working mother it has always been a challenge to find the balance between family and career.”
Elizabeth Stair, CEO/Commissioner of Lands at Jamaica’s National Land Agency, discussed the many ways that a women can be identified, stating: “International Women’s Day to me, means being a part of a community of strength and perseverance. As women, we are called by many names: wife, mother, sister and daughter, but sometimes our societies do not recognise our professional abilities.”
Keeper of the Registers of Scotland, Sheenagh Adams, sums up the value of International Women’s Day for RoS: “After speaking with our colleagues from across the globe, it is clear that International Women’s Day is truly designed to allow us to both reflect on the women who have gone before us, paving the way for many of us to feel empowered and inspired, but also to remind us to consider those women of all ages across the globe who are still facing adversity. It reminds us to keep pressing for progress and, at RoS, we are proud to be doing so, not just for our organisation, but also for the women who work here and our colleagues across the globe.”