I’m always in two minds about International Women’s Day.
Not that I don’t want to celebrate the sisterhood, and shine a light on injustice, inequality and bias.
The issue is that having just one day to do this seems trivial when we’re talking about the lives of half the world’s population.
Every year in March, since 1911, people have come together to demand equality.
Real change has happened.
Now the right to work and vote is almost universal.
And yet, we know that equality is still a long way off.
There are many countries in the world where oppression and intimidation render the right to vote meaningless.
In Egypt, for example, women have the right to vote, but must remove their veils to identify themselves while doing so – something they are forbidden to do in public.
Oman is among many countries where women’s votes are directed by their husbands.
Nearer to home, women’s lives in the UK seem comparatively rich in freedoms and rights but do we have equality?
A brief glance at the big headlines of the year, a tally of big business leaders or a look at the government frontbench, tells the same story.
Less than 10% of the UK’s top companies are led by women.
Women make up around a third of the cabinet and occupy around a third of overall government ministerial positions.
Ongoing campaigns such as #MeToo and #ReclaimTheseStreets point to the daily barriers, dangers and threats that women experience.
Minority groups are particularly affected.
Experiences of all women, including those marginalised because of age, ethnicity and disability as well as their gender, are part of a far broader fight for equality.
No it’s not acceptable that Black women are least likely to be among the top earners in the UK; that disabled women are more economically marginalised than disabled men or non-disabled women; or that gendered ageism is embedded in contemporary culture and social and economic policies.
So much is left to do.
Days like International Women’s Day, however, provide an opportunity to recognise and celebrate how women have changed the world culturally, socially, and politically.
Ask difficult questions of yourself and others; use your voice to call out inequality wherever you see it.
You, me and millions of others can make a difference, but every day, not just on International Women’s Day.
Sasha is the Operations Director at Thrive. She specialises in health and behaviour change and is passionate about creating content that engages its audience and drives positive change.
Do you have an upcoming health project or campaign that you’re looking for support with? Would you like to partner with a female-led company with over two decades of experience in women’s health? If so, we’d love to hear from you. You can contact Sasha directly at [email protected].
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