Celebrating International Women’s Day 2024: A Unified Call to #InspireInclusion

As we approach International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8th, Women Empowering Defence is honoured to share reflections and commitments from our esteemed partners and co-founders. This year’s theme, #InspireInclusion, resonates deeply with our mission, urging us to champion diversity, equity, and inclusion across the defence sector and beyond.

A Global Day of Activism and Reflection

IWD is not just a day of celebration but a global movement advocating for gender equality and the empowerment of women. It’s a day to reflect on progress, call for change, and celebrate the vital role of women in society. This year, we stand united under the theme of #InspireInclusion, emphasising the importance of creating spaces where everyone feels valued and included.

WED Co-Founders’ Reflections

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, the reflections of Women Empowering Defence co-founders, Natalie and Jodie, offer their insights into the essence of this year’s theme, #InspireInclusion, and the broader mission of WED.

Natalie Maddox-Hussain emphasises the core of WED’s mission to foster an environment where diversity is not just welcomed but celebrated.

“At Women Empowering Defence we aim to ‘inspire inclusion’ by promoting and encouraging an environment that wholeheartedly embraces diversity and ensures all individuals, feel valued, respected, and included. For us, this includes fostering a sense of belonging for everyone.

I trust we do this by celebrating women’s achievements, recognising we are not where we need to be in terms of gender equality, inspiring and advocating for change, providing solidarity and support and allowing individuals to reflect on their own personal growth.

We want to work together across the sector to implement best practice where we actively welcome and appreciate diverse perspectives. We want to create inclusive spaces; we want to promote equal opportunity and we want to celebrate the achievements of women. At WED our goal is to build a community where everyone feels welcome, accepted, supported and appreciated. I believe we have done that by cultivating an innovative, creative and supportive environment for all.”

Natalie’s commitment to celebrating women’s achievements, advocating for change, and providing solidarity and support underscores the multifaceted approach needed to achieve gender equality and empower individuals across the sector.

Jodie Evans adds a complementary perspective, highlighting the importance of inclusivity in the journey towards gender equality.

“Inspire Inclusion reminds us that the journey to gender equality must include a commitment to equity for all women. By fostering a sense of belonging, we empower women to be catalysts of change, illuminating the path towards a more inclusive world”

Her words reflect a deep understanding that true inclusion goes beyond surface-level diversity to address systemic barriers and ensure equity for women from all walks of life.

Together, Natalie and Jodie’s reflections encapsulate the spirit of International Women’s Day and the ongoing mission of WED. Their leadership not only guides the organisation but also serves as an inspiration for the entire defence community to embrace the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion. As we observe International Women’s Day, their messages remind us of the collective strength found in unity and the transformative power of inclusion to drive change in the defence sector and beyond.

Their vision for WED and the broader defence & security community is clear: to build a future where everyone, especially women, can thrive. This International Women’s Day, let their reflections inspire us all to take action, advocate for change, and contribute to a world where gender equality is realised not just in words, but in actions and outcomes.

Voices of Change: Partner Statements

Ascent Flight Training

Tim James – Managing Director, and Hayley Vince – HR Director, highlight the importance of diversity of thought and an inclusive environment.


“A day of global activism focussed on gender equality is fast approaching. In Ascent we rely on the creativity of our colleagues, to succeed we need diversity of thought and an inclusive environment to unlock the potential of our teams. We live and work in a highly developed economy however we see and experience the impact of the lack of inclusion all too frequently. We are joining the WED community to inspire greater inclusion #InternationalWomensDay”


“A day to recognise and celebrate the amazing women that I have and continue to work with within Ascent and throughout my career. To reflect on the challenges of being a working Mum, the strength to put in boundaries to balance career and home life and the joy to see the changes in the workplace that really celebrate diversity and empowerment of women”


Jon Cole – Defence Director, reflects on the significance of IWD for BT Defence, emphasising the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion and the sense of community shared across the UK Defence sector.

“There are lots of “days” in a year. This one really stands out for BT Defence. This is for 2 reasons. Firstly, BT is committed to a range of initiatives to improve our diversity and inclusion, and this provides an opportunity to recognise the work to do whilst also celebrate the progress being made. We are making a difference – and getting better as a result. Secondly, our customers and partners across Defence face similar challenges and opportunities, and it is wonderful for BT Defence not to feel alone, but part of a community across UK Defence that is sharing ideas, best practice, and encouraging each other. We are delighted to be playing an active part in this community, so let us reflect on this and mark it on this International Women’s Day.”

ITSUS Consulting

Shahid Mian – Managing Director, emphasises their commitment to inclusion and diversity, recognising the unique skills, experiences, and approaches everyone brings to problem-solving and solutions.

“ITSUS Consulting are fully committed to inclusion and diversity. We recognise that a diverse workforce brings balance to the organisation and the decisions we make, and that everyone brings different skills, experiences and approaches to problem solving and solutions. International Women’s Day is an opportunity for us to specifically celebrate the women working at ITSUS, and to shine a light on the importance of diversity in general. Together we can #inspireinclusion.”


Jade Mackenzie – Marketing Assistant, shares their commitment to equality, diversity, and inclusivity, underlining the special significance of IWD for promoting and celebrating women’s empowerment.

“As a company that prioritises equality, diversity and inclusivity, International Women’s Day has a special significance for us. We are committed to empowering women within the technology, military sectors and in general; IWD provides a good opportunity to promote celebrating and empowering women, as well as recognising the historical and ongoing challenges faced by women in all sectors. We see this day as a vital opportunity to acknowledge and promote gender equality. Our commitment to empowering women is exemplified by our partnership with WED, our support and empowerment of our female colleagues, including training programmes provided to help them with their professional growth. We need to continually elevate and enhance our policies and culture to ensure we remain an inclusive and diverse workplace. By embracing and celebrating IWD, we reaffirm our dedication to creating and promoting an equitable workplace.”

Sanderson Defence

Nick Waldrond – Managing Director, discusses the importance of IWD as an opportunity to recognise and celebrate progress towards women’s rights and equality.

“Although we believe that it should not be defined by just a single day of the year, International Women’s Day creates an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the progress that’s been made, not just for women’s rights in society, but for woman’s rights to be considered both equal and successful – whatever success looks like to the individual. There is unfortunately still so much progress to be made when it comes to equality, but we appreciate the need to stop, reflect, and evolve the way in which we support the mission for greater diversity and equal opportunities. The continued representation of women is paramount in order to drive change, and it is imperative that we consistently operate as allies, advocates, and truth speakers.”

People Source Consulting

Mary Scudamore – Senior Business Services Executive, highlights the significance of IWD in reinforcing workplace equality and the importance of a gender-balanced team in the staffing and recruitment industry.

“International Women’s Day holds profound significance for People Source Consulting, reinforcing our values surrounding workplace equality as well as serving a powerful reminder of the invaluable contributions of women not only in our workplace, but across the globe. International Women’s Day is not merely a single day of celebration, but a call to action for the long-term. It inspires us all to empower, collaborate, and harness the strengths of every individual, regardless of their gender.

The 2024 International Women’s Day theme, #InspireInclusion, feels incredibly relevant for People Source Consulting. The Staffing & Recruitment industry has been known to be heavily male-dominated, especially where leadership and top performers are concerned, so we are incredibly proud of our gender-balanced team and the achievements of our female Sales Directors and the female-led teams that support them. Our aim is that their voices are always heard and their potential is maximised. As well as within our workplace, we have a responsibility to the teams and organisations we provide consultancy services for. By seeking the best talent, we strive to ensure that their workplaces, from support teams right up to board rooms, are gender-equal and free of bias, stereotyping and discrimination. Together we can #InspireInclusion.”


Cheryl Grant – HR Director, reflects on IWD as a moment to celebrate progress, reflect on current standings, and motivate focus towards gender equality.

“International Women’s Day (IWD) gives women – and allies – an opportunity to share a moment to reflect on the accomplishments of women in areas like culture, politics, the economy, and society at large. Within Vivo, IWD also serves as a platform to focus on our people, to celebrate where progress has been made, to reflect on where we are now and to fuel motivation for where we want to focus our attention.

History reminds us that all the accomplishments and successes the world celebrates on IWD didn’t come easily, but they do bring to the forefront what is possible. As a call to action, IWD tells us to look at where we’ve been, see how far we’ve come, and keep fighting for more.”

Mott MacDonald

Catherine Travers – Group Managing Director, speaks on the essential role of empowered women in delivering complex projects and creating an inclusive working environment.

“Empowered women are an essential part of delivering complex projects. Our unique perspectives and thoughtful approaches make critical contributions to addressing society’s biggest challenges. In my professional journey, I’ve witnessed the impact an inclusive working environment has on empowering women – one that encourages and nurtures everyone to have a voice and to develop their career. International Women’s Day serves as a powerful reminder to recognise and celebrate the achievements of women across all levels of our industry.”


Leidos’ contribution to the International Women’s Day conversation, through the words of Silka Patel – Social Value Manager, encapsulates a vital principle: inclusion is an active process, not just a passive concept.

“Inclusion is not just a word, its very much an action, or series of actions – lead by example and showcase your inclusive behaviours to inspire others.”


As we reflect on the powerful statements from our partners and the visionary words of our co-founders, it’s clear that International Women’s Day is more than a moment—it’s a movement. A movement that has, over the years, made significant strides towards gender equality but still faces a long road ahead. The theme of #InspireInclusion for 2024 is not just a call to celebrate the achievements of women; it’s a rallying cry for all of us to actively participate in creating a more inclusive and equitable world.

The journey towards gender equality has been long and fraught with challenges. From the first IWD gathering in 1911, supported by over a million people, to today’s global activism, the progress we’ve witnessed is a testament to the resilience and determination of countless individuals who’ve fought for women’s rights. Yet, as our partners have eloquently stated, there is still much work to be done.

The Importance of Collective Action

The fight for gender equality requires the involvement of everyone, regardless of gender. It’s about dismantling the systemic barriers that hinder women’s progress and ensuring that all women, across all diversities, have the opportunity to succeed. This means advocating for policies that support gender equality, challenging gender stereotypes and biases, and supporting women’s empowerment in all aspects of life.

How Far We’ve Come and the Path Ahead

The progress made so far is encouraging—from increased representation of women in leadership roles to greater awareness of gender-based issues. However, the pace of change needs to accelerate. We need to leverage moments like International Women’s Day not just for reflection but for action. It’s about building on the momentum, inspiring inclusion, and making every day a step towards gender equality.

Join Us in Making a Difference

This International Women’s Day, let’s commit to being part of the solution. Whether it’s through supporting women-led initiatives, advocating for inclusive policies, or simply amplifying the voices of women in our communities, every action counts. We invite you to join Women Empowering Defence and our partners in our ongoing efforts to inspire inclusion and empower women across the defence sector and beyond.

A Unified Vision for the Future

As we look to the future, let’s envision a world where gender equality is not just an aspiration but a reality. A world where every woman has the opportunity to achieve her full potential, free from bias and discrimination. Together, with our partners and supporters, we can make this vision a reality. Let’s continue to inspire inclusion, celebrate the achievements of women, and work tirelessly towards a more equitable world. This International Women’s Day, and every day, let’s unite in our efforts to create lasting change.

Together, we can build a future where gender equality is the norm, not the exception. Join us in this vital mission, and let’s make history together. #InspireInclusion #IWD24 #GenderEquality #Empowerment

Find out more at www.internationalwomensday.com

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