International Women’s Day, a wonderful day, one of my favourites. However, it is consistently marred by the ever predictable response of many “When’s International Men’s day then?”
Hands up if you’ve already heard/seen that today? Well…here is my response.
Firstly, congratulations on being so highly original and witty, no-one ever made that crack before.
Secondly, it’s on 19th November actually, seriously, you could have just Googled that.
Thirdly, here are some of the reasons we have, and need, International Women’s Day (perhaps more so than Int. Men’s day?) :
· The current estimate is that 1 in 3 women will be raped in her lifetime.
· Women aged 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war and malaria, according to World Bank data.
· 1 in 4 women will be a victim of domestic violence in their lifetime –many of these on a number of occasions; On average, 2 women a week are killed by a current or former male partner.
· This year a girl was shot in the head, because she dared to want an education; because she was female. Access to education for girls is severely limited in many places around the world today.
· There is still, on average a 20% pay gap between men & women.
· It is estimated that between 130 and 140 million women and girls alive today have undergone FGM/C, mainly in Africa and some Middle Eastern countries. 3 million girls a year are thought to be at risk of genital mutilation. FGM can lead to long-term health implications and in some cases, death.
· Women and girls account for about 80 per cent of trafficked persons across the world. The majority are trafficked for sex.
I could go on, and on, and on. These are just some of the reasons I get so riled up about the fight for equality and women’s rights; why I call myself a feminist and spend my time trying to do something about it. I can’t see those horrific, injust stats and remain passive. Each figure in those statistics has a face, a name and a story. And this is without even going into the everyday sexism, objectification, gender stereotyping and misogyny that women face daily from multiple sources.
These inequalities are specifically gender based, and affect women considerably more than men. Someone once said ‘This is a man’s world’: they were right. It was, it still is, but I hope that it won’t always be. I love men, and I hate sexism towards men, every bit as much as I do when it’s aimed at women. But still, the facts remain.
The figures above are from today: 2013. This is the state of affairs AFTER the long journey through the ages that women have taken, fighting for emancipation and equality. Women are historically one of the most oppressed groups on the planet, and we’re half the population! Over hundreds of years women have struggled and worked to gain freedoms: the vote; an education; ownership of property; slightly more-equal pay; the right not to be raped by your husband, and on.
International Women’s Day is a day when we celebrate the hard-won freedoms so many of us now enjoy, and remember the women who fought to win them for us. It is a day too, when we stand together to continue forwards on the journey to freedom & equality, in the knowledge of the horrific inequalities that still need to be addressed.