Taking place annually on March 08, International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global day dedicated to promoting the scientific, social, economic, cultural and political contributions and achievements of women. This world day dates back to the year 1911 when it was launched by the Suffragettes movement, and now represents a unified call to action for accelerating gender parity.

More specifically, this year’s IWD global campaign themed #BalanceforBetter promotes gender balance across the globe to not only salute women’s achievements but also tenaciously tackle gender bias head-on.

Just as a recent editorial in The Lancet* concluded that the fight for gender equity is ongoing and feminism should be for everyone — a shared responsibility to be supported and upheld by men, women, researchers, clinicians, funders, institutional leaders and indeed medical journals themselves — IWD is rallying to forge a more gender-balanced world across professions and populations.

Echoing this sentiment, our Director as well as current President of the European Society for Oncology (ESMO), Josep Tabernero, recently penned an editorial in ESMO Open** reviewing findings reported from two studies centering on the status of women occupying leadership roles in oncology and gender-related challenges.

Inspired and led by ESMO’s Women for Oncology Committee (W4O), chaired by ESMO President-elect, Solange Peters, this duo of articles published in the same journal exposed worrisome statistics showing that achieving gender parity is still out of reach.

Mirroring the same percentage reported on the occasion of last year’s IWD however, VHIO is once again proud to report that 74% of its full-time equivalent (FTE) workforce is female. Over the past year, our Institute has expanded from 358 FTEs to 490 and yet, the percentage remains the same.

While this statistic can be celebrated as VHIO continues to strongly uphold and support gender parity, we place strict emphasis on contracting the right individual, with the necessary skill set matched to the requirements of a particular position.

One of VHIO’s guiding principles is to contract, promote and grow all its talents, totally irrespective of gender. As such, our Institute constantly seeks to strengthen its own policies and practices – a contributing factor that, in turn, undoubtedly helps spur research of excellence.

As participant in the European Commission’s Human Resources for Research (HRS4R) initiative, VHIO is also committed to applying the stated principles of the project to its human resources policies for researchers and to promoting transparency, accessibility, equity and the pursuit of excellence in the recruitment of its researchers.

Additionally, in compliance with legal requirements under Spanish law, VHIO has its own dedicated Gender Plan. Under the leadership and supervision of VHIO’s Gender Commission, this body ensures that discrimination, of any form, cannot and will not be tolerated at our Institute.

In short, VHIO is dedicated to providing a bias-free environment that stimulates our faculty to pursue their research ambitions, develop their careers and seize on the same, equal opportunities.

To discover more about this year’s International Women’s Day please visit: https://www.internationalwomensday.com/.

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* Feminism is for everybody. Lancet. 2019 Feb 9;393(10171):493.

** Tabernero J. All change: closing the gender gap in oncology. ESMO Open. 2018 Nov 15;3(7):e000448.