International Women’s Day, it’s Still Relevant

equality

What irritates me about International Women’s Day, is the need some women have to show their dismay for the day, claiming it is no longer needed, or laughably that it is sexist towards men. I’ll deal with the latter reasoning first seeing as it is the quickest to dismiss. International Women’s Day isn’t sexist, it is a day created to celebrate and encourage further gender equality, men should not feel discriminated towards because of it, and a real man wouldn’t. If you as a woman feel the need to be offended on behalf of the male species because of one date in the calendar year, your ignorance in regards to the point of the day, not to mention the opinion of many men in regards to the day is absolutely astonishing. A real man recognises the importance of equal rights between genders, because he sees a woman as his equal, and realises just how important equal rights are. In case you were wondering, those men do not need your faux outrage one bit, and it does not make you a “cool” or “modern” woman.

The former point is one that saddens me rather than anything else. Not for one moment should any woman think that International Women’s Day is no longer needed. For the most part, we have it pretty good in the United Kingdom and the rest of the Western world, pay equality still isn’t a reality, nor does industry see as many female managers as male, and we do have to put up with the pathetic excuses for women being to blame for sexual harassment and assault because we chose to show cleavage or a bit of leg, and apparently politicians believe that having a period is akin to relaxing in a Jacuzzi in your massive mansion, but we have come a long way. Every day, all over the world, women lack the basic rights to education, to choose who they marry, to choose who they have children with, or when they have those children. Things that we see as a given; driving, making decisions for ourselves or our children, even applying for a job are day to day rights some women just do not have, nor do they have any chance of attaining those rights anytime soon.

Being a modern feminist isn’t about “free bleeding” or bashing men and making out that we want to be dominant, it’s simply about equality. Equal pay, equal rights on every level, something which as of yet is not reflected in completion anywhere in the world. In Western Europe and the United States a recurrent excuse is that women “choose” to have children, and thus they themselves give up their rights to climb as high as their male counterparts because they have children to look after. Women continue to be discriminated towards even for basic jobs by some companies, because of the expectation that a woman with children will require more unexpected time off work. What these companies, and the people who run them, fail to recognise is that if women suddenly stopped having children, they would run out of employees pretty quickly. Women should not be discriminated towards because they chose to have children or they may choose to have children in the future, after all men aren’t, discrimination on the basis of gender is illegal in several countries and it needs to be enforced more seriously. On the other side of the coin, women who choose not to have children also face discrimination, especially from other women, who assume that there must be something wrong with a woman who does not want to spend her life raising children. A big part of gender equality is the right to make choices in regards to your life, and your body, a choice which we are fortunate enough to have the right to make, and no women should be discriminated against because of those choices.

International Women’s Day is needed today; it will be needed next year, next decade and next century. The development of equal rights, whether it is between genders, different sexualities, races or religions, is a long and arduous road, and it is a journey that should never be belittled or undermined, but fought for loudly and proudly. Being a feminist isn’t something to be embarrassed about, supporting your gender and fighting for equality is NOT a bad thing, and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. Usually I would finish such a musing with a quote from a strong woman whom I admire, however few people have said it better than a man whom I admire more than most people on this earth, Kofi Annan.

“Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance.”

Gender equality isn’t just about equal pay, or a woman’s right and equal chances of becoming a manager, a CEO or a president. It is about improving the very foundations upon which our society is built, and surely everyone should welcome something that improves the world we live in, and more importantly the world in which our children will grow up.

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