It’s International Women’s Day today. I thought about what it means to me. It’s about amplifying women’s voices, increasing access to opportunities and highlighting and challenging the inequalities women face in their everyday lives. There are folk who think that in 2014 we’ve reached gender equality, that IWD 2014 is redundant, that being an everyday feminist is an unnecessary pursuit.
Only one in seven modern women would call themselves feminist. I love Caitlin Moran’s questions from How To Be A Woman:
“What part of liberation for women is not for you? Is it the freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man that you marry? The campaign for equal pay? Vogue by Madonna? Jeans? Did all that stuff just get on your nerves?”
So it seems we have a problem with the ‘other F-word.’
In 2014 in the UK the gender pay gap stands at 15%, on average women earn £5k a year less than their male counterparts
In 2014 in the UK women are 51% of the population but only 23% of MPs; 24% of judges and 17% of FTSE 100 Directors
In 2014 in the UK there are four male professors for every female professor in our universities, despite women accounting for 45% of the academic workforce
In 2014 internationally over 130 million women living today have undergone FGM
In 2014 internationally an estimated 1.2m children are trafficked into slavery each year; 80 per cent are girls.
In 2014 in ten countries around the world women are legally bound to obey their husbands
It’s clear to me that we still have a long way to go.
I want Joss to recognise the sacrifices made, challenges faced and the tenacity of those that have gone before her, from Emmeline Pankhurst to Malala Yousafzai, my wish for her is that she recognises her own strengths and qualities and promotes social justice and equality for all. If she doesn’t want to identify as ‘feminist’ that is OK, but I want her to see herself as part of a bigger picture in an unequal world, both her Dad and I share these values, I guess that means he’s feminist too.
It’s not by accident that I do the work I do in a professional and personal capacity, feminist research which values the voices of those who may not otherwise be heard in a sector that values the promotion and protection of human rights is my life blood. Qualities that are important to me include helping the next person up, leaving the world as we found it or better, valuing feminist qualities and not trying to fit in, listening and where possible speaking out, these are the qualities I would like to pass onto her.
This is what a feminist looks like!