International Women’s Day this year is all about making changes.
“A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water. “
The #BeBoldForChange campaign for International Women’s Day this year is all about being braver, about taking risks and putting yourself out there to make a change for this generation, and future generations. And it’s one of their most important campaigns yet.
The #bebold message is such an timely one, because it taps into a fundamental problem women are facing at the moment in the push for change – feminism has become a dirty word. Women who express their unhappiness at the imbalance they find in their world are castigated for being angry or aggressive. Self-expression, when it is directed towards a patriarchal society that is still structured to promote one sex over the other, is considered ugly and unpleasant. Frustration at the disparity between pay for men and women in the same jobs is seen as complaining. This alone needs to change. Because change is still needed and we need to keep on insisting on it.
I love how the phrase: “Nevertheless, she persisted” – used in an attempt by Mitch McConnell to silence vocal senator Elizabeth Warren in America recently, has been taken by women and turned into a source of strength. Because we must persist. In some ways, we seem further back than we were 20 or 40 years ago. Apathy has set in. We tell ourselves it’s a lot better than it used to be. But is it? Really?
- 1 in 5 women between 15-49 year have experienced sexual violence
- 10% of titled land in the world is owned by women
- 17% of government ministers globally are women
- 85 million girls in the world are unable to attend school (compared to 45m boys)
- Women in full-time jobs earn on average 15% less than their male counterparts
- Over 130 million women worldwide have suffered female genital mutilation (Around 24,000 girls are at risk of cutting in the UK; one hospital in Birmingham hospital treats as many as 40 to 50 women every month after undergoing FGM)
- 70% of the 1.2bn people living in poverty are women
- 21% of the world’s managers are women
(Source: The Independent)
And so, today is a day to remember how much more there is to do, to speak to your mothers, sisters, daughters, grandmothers about change, about what we have achieved already and what must still fight for. Visit internationalwomensday.com to find out about how you can support some of their specific campaigns; pledge your allegiance to the HeForShe campaign; or read about seven women who won’t wait for their rights but are working to change them now.
This is also a day to celebrate women too – to recognise their struggle and celebrate their achievements. Take a moment today to revel in all the wonders across the world that are women. This is a lovely story about grandmothers in India finally going to school, and there’s a fantastic round-up of TED talks on women’s issues here that will make you feel inspired. This new statue in New York has given me shivers down my spine; while here Zoe Williams talks about the extraordinary 1975 women’s strike in Iceland that completely changed the political landscape of the country and led to the country’s first female president.