The official website for International Women’s Day describes the event as one that celebrates “the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women” and “also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity”. It’s a day that recognises the impact of women and aims for complete gender equality – something that, despite much progress, still fails to exist across the world.
Considerable strides have been made in terms of gender equality in recent times – strides that afford both myself and other women around me opportunities that our ancestors would never have had. Take a look at the Western world in which I, the writer, happen to reside. 100 years ago, no woman in the United Kingdom was able to vote. 50 years ago, no woman was able to attend Harvard, Yale or Princeton Universities. Just 25 years ago, not all British women were entitled to maternity leave. All of these were privileges denied to people purely on the basis that they happened to be females.
In the world we live in today, much is different from previous times. In many countries, such as the UK and the US, the ideas of women voting, going to work and accessing education are the norm, rather than things that are denied to around half the population on the basis on gender. All the rights both myself and other women around me have been afforded, as well as the remarkable achievements of women around the world, are all down to brave and strong-willed females who fought for a cause, and this day offers a great opportunity to celebrate those people and the steps they have taken in reducing the gap between genders.
when I choose to do something, I feel that it is my own personal interests that dictate this, rather than the fact I happen to be female
I am lucky to be living in a time and place where I have rarely experienced any negative treatment because I am a woman. I am able to do the things I want to do without discrimination because of my gender, whether that be, among others, going to university, getting a part-time job or editing the online version of the more political section of my student newspaper. Furthermore, when I choose to do something, I feel that it is my own personal interests that dictate this, rather than the fact I happen to be female.
Yet, it is important to remember that I have privilege in comparison to others. In the lottery of life, I am white and living in the Western World, with supportive parents and a relatively comfortable upbringing. Furthermore, I have not yet entered the world of full-time work, where sexist attitudes can be rife. The fight for equal rights for females, worldwide, is by no means over. Shocking things exist across the planet that confirm we all need to work together to fight gender inequality. The continued practice of female genital mutilation across the world. The fact that a MEP feels that he can tell the European Parliament that women should earn less “because they are weaker, they are smaller, they are less intelligent”. The fact that some companies still insist that women must wear high heels at work, just because of their gender. The heart-breaking statistic that 130 million girls across the world do not go to school – all because they happen to be female.
In my opinion, it is incomprehensible that anyone’s gender should have any impact on the way they are treated. Why some people can’t see that too is a mystery to me.