Last week we had International Women’s Day. A day that is meant as an opportunity for everyone to celebrate women the world over. This could be your mother or maybe a friend. It could be any woman. It is our opportunity to celebrate women for their achievements. However, we still had people moaning, tutting about the fact that we had this day. That’s fine because it is their opinion. However, all of the moaning (and no, it wasn’t just men expressing their dislike for the day) just served to reinforce exactly why we need this day. There were calls for it to be re-named Equality Day. NO, let us have one day! The day is about celebrating women – WOMEN! There were mutterings of “well there is no men’s day”. Yes, there is! A quick google and you will know that. What struck me was how sad that people were taking the time to turn what is a positive day, a day for recognising achievements of women, into moaning. This is why we still need the day. That attitude demonstrates that there is still so much to be done.
I would be as bold to say that after the events of 2016 we need International Women’s Day more than ever. Let’s not forget how we now have Trump as the President of America; how when rape is reported in the press it will often make references to how much the woman drank or the clothes she wore; how domestic violence is reported in the press often being described as moments of passion. These things tell us why we still need the day. That’s before we even look at women in the workplace. There is still very much a gender inequality pay gap. It is still made difficult for a mother to be treated as an equal in the workplace. We need this day for women because everyday women everywhere are overcoming those barriers. Women are fighting for their right to education, many women are still fighting for their right to have healthcare, and many women are fighting to escape violence. That is why we need International Women’s Day. We need to recognise these women, women who overcame the barriers of inequality.
If you are women who believes that we do not need International Women’s Day then I implore you to open your eyes, to look around you. You might not have suffered inequality first-hand but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t still happen. We might be in a privileged position where we feel we are equal but so many aren’t. Also, this day remembers the ones that paved the way for our equality. The suffragettes, and our mothers. My Mum fought against inequality. She proved that having children didn’t mean the end of her career. It was expected that she would have children and become at stay-at-home mother. She went against expectations. She worked full-time and she worked hard. She was one of the only females on the Senior Leadership Team at her school, she was also one of the most feared on the team. She didn’t tell me that, I know that from the summer I worked at her school. No one wanted to get on the wrong side of my Mum. I was grateful for my Mum because she showed me that with hard work and determination you can achieve whatever you put your mind to. She showed me that being female was no barrier. International Women’s Day is about my mum too. My Mum showed me that I do have a choice.
I think that for some women there is a reluctance to mark the day because they don’t like the label of feminism. That saddens me. We shouldn’t let a label stop us from celebrating amazing women everywhere. There are still many societies where women are not considered equal. We need this day for them. Open your eyes, switch on the news and watch, pick up a newspaper and read. We still need this day. We need this day because in the UK 1 in 4 women will be a victim of domestic violence. We need this day because everywhere there are secret victims of rape. Women too afraid to share what happened. They could be your mother, teacher, sister or friend. We need this day because there is still so much more that needs to be done. We need this day for women everywhere.
Next year make sure that you celebrate International Women’s Day. Be proud.