Since 1911, women have been celebrated on this day on an International stage, their achievements rigorously applauded. Yet, 105 years on and an estimated 170 years still to go before gender equality is achieved, time feels like it is standing still. Where is society going wrong? Why is it the case that women are paid on average 81p for every £1 that a man is paid for the exact same work? Why are women forced to conform to society’s standardised female dress code? Why have 130 million women and girls worldwide been subjected to female genital mutilation against their will?
I am fortunate enough to be employed full-time in a wonderful office in a job that I am incredibly passionate about. I earn just as much as my male counterparts and I am empowered in my job. I work in an office full of other inspiring, intelligent women and going to work every day for me is not a chore, nor a money motivated task; but rather a reason to get up in the morning. However, I’m considered “one of the lucky ones”. As a woman, being employed full-time, in a non-discriminatory environment, in a job I was employed into based on merit and capability is considered a luxury amongst the female community. What an incredibly frustrating concept.
Parliament heard just yesterday of the ever-prominent discrimination women are forced to face in the workplace. From enforced female-only dress codes to full-face of makeup policies; we heard how women were forced to the point of injury into wearing high heels for long shifts, how a woman was asked to unbutton her blouse in order to promote sales whilst serving male customers and how women are frequently asked suggestive and unwelcome questions by customers. Many women must choose, employment in a discriminatory environment or no employment at all.
Is the notion that women are in any way inferior to men really a notion we wish to impose on another generation of young women as we raise them? Every young woman should have the opportunity to grow, to flourish and to achieve whatever she wishes whenever she wishes to do so. Every woman should be presented with the right not to conform to society’s standards for women, to dress as and how she pleases and to be paid an equal amount to her male counterparts in the same line of work.
Although International Women’s Day is rightly so a day of celebration for women across the globe, let it also be a day of awareness, a day of vigorous campaign. Although we are closer, gender equality is still so far from our reach and we must exercise every platform and exhaust every avenue, until we achieve the equality that we deserve.
We owe it not only to ourselves to continue this fight, but to the women before us who fought, who died, who starved, and who tirelessly campaigned for our emancipation. The Glass Ceiling awaits us, ladies. Use this International Women’s Day to #BeBoldForChange, I know I will be.
All lives have equal value is not just a principle; it’s a strategy. – Melinda Gates.