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Dear Ladies. A Letter from FoodSheikh.

Originally, back in 1909 when International Women’s Day started, it was a day of protests and marches, in cities all over the world. Women across the globe marched for equal rights and the right to vote.  They marched for the right to hold public office.  They marched against employment discrimination, and they marched for equality and parity.  International Women’s Day became a moment in a calendar where women’s issues were allowed to be discussed and where women’s achievements were allowed to be celebrated, and the incredible struggles of women who have paved the way for others were recognised.

But guess what – it’s 2018 and #TimesUp on International Women’s Day because women aren’t waiting for March 8th to let their voices be heard.  They aren’t limiting themselves to 24 hours of appreciation for their contribution to this planet.  The IWD is no longer just a single day – it is a movement – a powerful tide of progress, a seismic shift in the balance of gender equality and I’d like to talk a little about my experience of women in my industry.

Let’s start by calling it for how it is – globally, in the very best examples, women are underpaid, under-promoted and held to ridiculous standards.  In the worst examples, they are subject to sexual harassment and blatant discrimination.  There are always outliers, but for the most part, these observations hold true, especially in F&B.

So, please remember that any woman working in the F&B industry probably has as much, if not more grit, determination and resolve than her male counterpart.  It is likely she has been teased, touched and tormented by co-workers and customers alike.  Malicious or not, it is the same; it happens every day, and nevertheless, she persisted.

So, let’s not use today to offer a dinner discount or a free glass of bubbly to women.  Let’s make a commitment to acknowledge that without women in our restaurant kitchens, we would have less creativity, discipline, and innovation.  Without women in our dining rooms, we would have less harmony and balance and less genuine hospitality.  Without women in management, we would have less clarity and focus, less perspective and vision.  Women in our industry bring balance, energy, intelligence and grit to our businesses. And they do it every single day, not “once a year.”

So, I would like to shout out to all the women in our great industry – the chefs, sous chefs and commis, all the bartenders, cocktail servers and waitresses, all the hostesses, and supervisors, all the managers, and leaders that bring such balance, strength, and vitality to our industry.  My hat is off to you, and it remains off.

Please share this article with any women in the industry that need a shout out!

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