International Women’s Day should be celebrated now, more than ever.
International Women's Day falls on 8th March, and the theme for this year is #PressForProgress.
IWD 2018 comes at a time where we are striving to do just this.
The Time’s Up movement has taken Hollywood by storm, and, at long last, women are finally coming forward and taking a stand about sexual predators in the industry and what really goes on behind the scenes. For too long these truths have been stifled, leading to both victims and supporters coming forward, causing a stir and calling out unequal pay and sexual assault and harassment in the workplace.
#MeToo, the trending campaign that took social media by storm, is giving women a platform to speak their truth. Women who, for far too long, have been silenced, shamed and discouraged from sharing their stories.
These campaigns are ground-breaking and important, not only because they are exposing abusers, but because of the millions of people watching, listening and relating worldwide. As a sexual assault survivor, I can’t tell you what it means to have what seems like a world of women standing behind you, and those in the limelight fighting your cause.
So, what does this tell us? We need to keep talking. We need to raise our voices and our concerns until we are unapologetically loud. We need to empower ourselves and each other and make public knowledge of the issues that women everywhere are facing. We don't need to find our voices - we already have a voice, we just need to learn how to use it.
2018 marks 100 years of suffrage. A century since the first countries granted women a political vote. An incredible milestone, but, looking at the bigger picture – just how far have we come? Women in the UK weren’t included in the Equal Pay Act until 1970 – and this hasn’t abolished the gender pay gap. In recent months, the BBC shone a somewhat unflattering light and published the earnings of their highest paid media stars. As of April, organisations with greater than 250 employees will be required to publish the gender pay gap for their company, quarterly. Whilst this is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, it will inevitably act as evidence that, despite having the same judicial rights on paper as our male counterparts, we are a long way off being equal.
The USA is currently being run by a serial sex pest billionaire with a history of undeniable sexism, racism, discrimination and assault crimes. American women are living in fear for their sexual health and desperately clinging on to the rights to their own body.
Last year, it was revealed that a case of female genital mutilation is either discovered or treated at a medical appointment in England every hour. Two hundred million women around the world are currently suffering the effects of FGM.
We live in a world where period poverty is real life. Where people cannot afford sanitary protection, and women are taxed on said products as 'luxuries'. Research by Women For Independence recently found that one in five Scottish women have struggled to buy tampons or pads, instead having to use toilet paper, rags, old clothes, and even newspapers.
Glossy magazines and less reliable newspapers still make their money from dehumanizing women. Pitting them against each other and pulling out and publicly shaming their 'flaws', feeding into diet culture and the lack of self confidence in our younger generations - portraying everything that is wrong with the media.
"According to a recent report by the World Economic Forum's 2017 Global Gender Gap Report, the gender gap will most likely take over 200 years to close — 217 years, to be exact. Shocked, but not discouraged, by this new information, the International Women's Day organization decided to use their platform to inspire advocacy on a global scale. They believe that it only takes one individual to bring together friends, and challenge their colleagues and communities, to be practice parity and be more inclusive. As their mission statement says, "We can't be complacent." Now, more than ever, it is so vitally important that we come together collectively to accelerate the towards gender parity timeline."
We should let other women inspire us - the sisterhood is our most powerful force.
Take a moment this IWD and thank the women around you - be it your mother, sister, best friend, co-worker or even she who serves you in Sainsbury's. Thank them for doing their bit, and then do your bit. Pledge your support to the cause, call out gender-based bias and challenge convention. Let it be known that we stand together in solidarity, pushing for what we deserve.