International Women’s Day

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In the year 2015 you have to ask why is International women’s day a thing at all? Yes we can point to all the countries and regimes around the world that systematically belittle women and remove their rights in numerous ways. Then there is the point I made a few days ago that recognition and acceptance is not the same as equality.

We could examine the fact that only five of the top one hundred companies in the FTSE have female CEOs or we could focus on the stigma that still to this day affects women when they take time off from their careers to have family. The unbalance between gender representations in the media is an obvious thing to point out as young females are ten-a-penny on our TVs but older women are few and far between – this sort of thing has no impact on the male TV presenters or actors.

There is the constant issue of the glass ceiling, underpaid in comparison to men, continued sexism in certain job types – including sexual harassment in the worst cases. The continuation of things like page three that while pretending to be feminist are really men exploiting women. On a more serious note the ongoing disgrace that is female genital mutilation which is happening here in our own country – barbaric and invasive practice.

Human slaves in the UK are also a problem – predominantly female, young girls taken from places of poverty on a promise of a brighter future with education and the rest that the UK will offer. The reality is they are sold into sex slavery and hooked on drugs only to be replaced with a younger model when they are finished with.

There’s the lack of females in politics – just look at our own houses of parliament and how few females there in there. If it were truly representative then it would be a near fifty/fifty split between the sexes. Science and achievements in invention are biased towards men and children can name all the great men that created and discovered but the number of females – the likes of Marie Curie, Rachel Carson, Rosalind Franklin, Barbara McClintock and Jane Goodall who were pioneers in their areas of expertise.

We could consider the role of the suffragette, the land girls and all the women who worked in the factories and munitions bases during the war to show how the 20th century allowed women a huge step forward. The rise of feminism in the 60s, the publishing of the Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer. Society could highlight the amazing work done in our primary school sector with a huge female  bias teaching and nurturing our children.

We could recognise the hard work of our wives, mothers, sisters, nieces, grandmothers and cousins in creating the family home as a safe and positive place for our children. We can acknowledge that the girls progress in school much better than the boys and their achievements both in the classroom and in a world where a female ideal is forced upon them from the magazine covers and TV images.

But…

We don’t need a day to celebrate and point all of this out. We need 365 days a year to do it. I’m against putting one day aside for these types of events as they suggest that they don’t matter the rest of the time.

I am much more interested in the “He for She” campaign that is demanding that men stand up for female rights:

“Now it’s time to unify our efforts. HeForShe is a solidarity movement for gender equality that brings together one half of humanity in support of the other half of humanity, for the benefit of all”

As good as the intentions are for International Women’s Day, I’d rather support He for She and show that regardless of the calendar I want the best for my mother, wife and daughter in life – and that the same is true for women all over the world.

Men – sign up and show support those women around the world. http://www.heforshe.org

JD

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