Each year International Women’s Day celebrates the achievements of women across the globe, highlights inequalities that still exist between genders and challenges each and every one of us to do more to drive gender disparity down.
Each year there are those who question why it’s needed. It’s not rocket science: we do not yet have gender equality. In fact, the World Economic Forum has predicted that the gender gap won’t close entirely until 2186. That’s one hundred and sixty nine more years, the WEF helpfully reminded me I’ll be 202 years old then. I’ll look like a Mars Attacks alien, I’m excited.
So, that’s 169 years and I am a straight, white, educated, Western woman. I do work in a hugely male dominated profession but by and large my feminist struggle is comparably easier than many women across the planet. 169 years to equality just isn’t good enough.
This year’s theme is Be Bold for Change. It calls on all of us to be braver, to stick our heads out of the proverbial trench and be louder, prouder and more vocal about gender equality. To be more pro-active about challenging disparity in pay, opportunity, education, representation. It is more important than ever in our increasingly divided world, where this year we’ve seen women referred to merely as ‘hosts’ to further an anti-abortion agenda. HOSTS! It’s not a joke, nor a Margaret Attwoodism. It’s an actual sentence, spoken by an actual human being. Who had presumably at one point been ‘hosted’ by his mother. Idiot.
This year already we’ve witnessed a Member of the European Parliament openly denounce pay parity on the grounds that women are ‘weaker and less intelligent than men’. It is 2017, say WHAT now? We’ve also very recently seen Hermione flipping Grainger annihilated for being a sexually confident woman daring to expose a spot of side boob of her own volition.
And these up here ^^, those are really just words. Abhorrent and archaic absolutely, but just words. The horrifying truth is that women across the world are still living their lives in very real fear of physical violence and sexual exploitation as a matter of course. There are women without access to education and denied the right to vote simply because they are female. It was nice though to see Vladimir Putin celebrate IWD on Twitter because what we all absolutely need is to have our womanhood celebrated by a man who respects women so much that recently authorised the decriminalisation of domestic violence in his own country.
Once more for the cheap seats: it is TWO THOUSAND AND CHUFFING SEVENTEEN boldness is no longer optional it’s an absolute necessity.
I will be bolder about challenging everyday sexism in the moment (rather than having the fictional and slightly insane post event conversation in my head – I am the absolute queen of the imaginary comeback though).
I will be bolder about becoming an expert in my profession and braver at speaking up when I know I am right, even when I’m surrounded by men in ties.
I will be bolder in championing the women around me to advance their own careers in our indisputably underrepresented profession.
I will be bolder about educating myself to the plight of all women everywhere facing all forms of gender inequality AND I will not be afraid to talk about it every opportunity I get.
It never feels like enough. It will never be enough until there is true equality.