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International Women's Day 2021


Article updated: 12th May 2021

After generous donations from our partners and users, we’re delighted to announce that together, we raised £925 for UN women. In addition to this,  Touch Stay has matched the same amount, bringing our donation total to £1850. 🎉

Thanks to everyone who donated, shared and got the word out. We especially loved reading the reasons why you decided to get involved.

And here’s a ‘thank you’ from UN Women too.

I count myself incredibly lucky to have earned wonderful career opportunities in an industry that embraces women at the helm, the chance to create jobs for other women, a childhood full of women who empowered me, and few instances of gender discrimination throughout my life – but it should never take luck of the draw for women or girls to have this experience. It is long past due for gender equality to be the status quo. And there’s plenty of work left to be done to get there, so it is an honor for Rent Responsibly and me personally to get to roll up our sleeves with partners like TouchStay and to support causes like UN Women.


- Alexa Nota, Rent Responsibly

Wigwam Holidays is honoured to support International Women’s Day, our team includes many capable and irreplaceable women who work in all areas of the business, marketing and delivering our core purpose, providing  “Great Holidays in the Great Outdoors” It is an established industry statistic that over 75% of women plan and book the family holiday, which in this of all years, provides essential mental and physical nourishment not just for families, but for all of us.

- Charles Gulland, Director, Wigwam Holidays

Rentals United is not just supportive of empowerment of women, but is committed to changing the paradigm of gender dynamics to create more awareness, commitment and empathy. In that respect, we’re honoured to be able to participate in helping the UN women cause.

- Vanessa de Souza Lage, CMO, Rentals United

Today, March 8th, marks International Women’s Day (IWD). As the
IWD website says, it’s one of the most important days of the year to:

  • celebrate women’s achievements
  • raise awareness about women’s equality
  • lobby for accelerated gender parity
  • fundraise for female-focused charities
We’ve set a target to raise £5,000 for UN Women during the month of March. Please don’t miss the call for donations at the end of this article 🙏

Celebrate women’s achievements

I’ve been fortunate to spend most of my working life in fashion and travel, industries with no shortage of diversity.

In fashion I think of superstars like Stella McCartney and Victoria Beckham. I think of CEO’s like Micaela Le Divelec (CEO at Salvatore Ferragamo), Sarah Crook (CEO at Peter Dundas) and Susan Chokachi (CEO at Gucci). These are all women I’ve worked with. More than that, they are determined women, thoughtful women, and inspirational women.

In travel, particularly the vacation rental niche, the glass ceiling still exists in the larger organisations. Unlike fashion, where I listed just a few of the numerous women in leadership roles, I struggle to think of many obvious examples. That said, it’s a new industry and, if we continue to talk about diversity, I’m convinced it’ll change. People like Vanessa de Souza Lage at Rentals United, Sarah Franzen at Natural Retreats, Merilee Karr at UnderTheDoormat, Heather Bayer at Vacation Rental Formula, and Margot Lee Schmorak at Hostfully all point to the growing number of successful women in leadership.

Check out the Top 20 Female CEO’s from Vanessa’s own VRTECH community listing. I would also add that I speak to many more women than men leading the hundreds of smaller property management businesses. The signs are strong!

Here at Touch Stay we have an Advisory Board with an equal number of men and women. And, within our small team, we have more women than men (more from them below). As we grow, I’m determined that our leadership roles continue to reflect diversity*.

* Today is focused on IWD, but we recognise this is just one part of diversity.

I’d like to specifically thank the six brilliant women batting for Team Touch Stay:

Hannah Gardiner, Hazel Parker, Hilary McNulty, Jane Mishchishina, Kate Stinchcombe-Gillies, and Tyann Marcink. You are such an imaginative and positive force on our company. You always bring a smile, positivity, creativity, energy and, above all, thoughtful opinion rather than nodding heads. “What about this…?” is more powerful than “Yes, I agree”.

Raise awareness about women’s equality

My liberation as a man is tied to your liberation as a woman.

It’s a quote from Tony Porter’s TED talk 10 years ago as he sought to frame the role of men in the advancement of women’s equality. As a man on International Women’s Day (IWD) I couldn’t find a more powerful way to think about my role.

As men, we sit in a position of privilege. I accept this is a generalisation, knowing many men who struggle with the masculine expectation of them, who fight against bigoted racial, gender, cultural and sexuality vitriol. But, for most of us, there’s an historical culture that makes it easier for us.

With that position, comes a responsibility to raise awareness about women’s equality. Not just in marking a day like today, but to embed it in our lives. At home with our loved ones (especially in educating our kids), at work with our colleagues, and in the pub (one day soon!) with our friends.

Hannah Gardiner, our (brilliant) Content Manager, says it perfectly:

This year’s IWD theme, Choose To Challenge, is such a poignant one. For positive change to continue, more people need to “call out” the day-to-day inequalities that they see happening around them.

At the same time, Hannah recognises that this isn’t just for the privileged in society, but also a challenge for the marginalised too:

I think the burden still most commonly falls on the marginalised people to do this [call out] themselves. And unfortunately, I think every woman and marginalised person has chosen not to challenge out of fear. I know I have.

A critical part of enabling those who fear the repercussions of challenge is for society to step up. All of us in a position of privilege have a responsibility to identify with those who aren’t, to truly understand by educating ourselves. Organisations like UN Women and Equality Now are great places to start.

I’ll leave the final word on this to Hannah…

This IWD highlights a much needed reminder for allies to really show up for women, and for other marginalised groups. Everyone needs to be more tuned into the inequalities that happen around us but don’t directly affect us. The sooner more people become comfortable challenging and being challenged themselves, the faster much needed change will happen for women worldwide.

Lobby for accelerated gender parity

Something that Jane (our Back End Developer) said to me captures this lobbying spirit perfectly:

It looks like I’m a very happy woman: being equal with men is just a normal state of things for me thanks to my father and countless people who fought for equal rights long before my birth.

Lobbying isn’t about instant results. And it isn’t solely about big organisations, grand initiatives, or government. It’s very often about achieving gradual change, often advocating where you can directly make a difference. In Jane’s case her father was instrumental in fueling her own career and, to Tony Porter’s point, he understood his role in empowering Jane. In her own words:

First of all, he was an engineer and he told me a lot about this work, and those stories were so interesting and inspirational that I decided to become an engineer too. Also he taught me a lot about technology, natural sciences (like atomic structure of materials) even when I was only at first grade at school. And more – there were a lot of outdoor activities with him like hiking, camping, making campfire…

Continuing with the theme that lobbying on an everyday level begins on our own doorstep, Tyann (our Community Ambassador) is THE perfect example of this in action. Not only does she own and manage multiple vacation properties alongside her Touch Stay role, but she also devotes much of her time to family and community, leading by example:

The incredible value of having the insight of both women and men in one’s life is extraordinarily powerful. Men and women are counterparts to one another, and each person is created with unique strengths and weaknesses that balance others. Grasping the concept that someone else’s perspective is not bad, but simply different, is a truth that I strive to teach my sons in life and demonstrate by example. 

I endeavor to make it normal for my sons to see a woman creating, investing, building, leading, collaborating, and most importantly, serving one’s family and community, both locally and extending further out globally within the industry one moves in.

I’ve known Tyann for years and this set of values embodies everything she does. I’ve no doubt that her sons will grow up without a thought to gender parity. Not out of ignorance, but out of a belief that men and women truly do stand on an equal footing. That’s lobbying in action!

Fundraise for female-focused charities

The IWD website has a list of charities and nonprofits working for the advancement of women and girls. Whilst not listed on their site, we’re supporting UN Women UK. There is also a mother website UN Women.

But more than just a day, we’ve set ourselves and our community the target of donating £5,000 during March in support of their mission to ensure every woman and girl has access to safety, choice, and a voice.

Please head to our Just Giving crowdfunding page

Consider this:

It’s estimated every 10 seconds, somewhere in the world, a girl has her genitals mutilated. Over 2.7 billion women worldwide are legally prevented from having the same jobs as men. And women and children are 14 times more likely to die in a natural disaster. UN Women is working to make gender equality a reality, by working with local communities, organisations and governments. But we need your help. We’re asking you to help end violence and discrimination against all women, starting by supporting one girl today.

As a start up ourselves, seeing that just £10.00 can help train a woman to run her own local business is eye-opening. Imagine what £5,000 could do.

Or that £50.00 can support an FGM survivor to recover and gain independence. Imagine what £5,000 could do.

Please head to our Just Giving crowdfunding page