Suffragettes would be aghast that so much but so little has changed
PUBLISHED: 09:13 08 March 2018 | UPDATED: 09:13 08 March 2018
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Every day should be International Women's Day - or, rather, International Quality and Fairness Day, says Rachel Moore.
Today is International Women’s Day.
Sunday is Mothers’ Day – or Mothering Sunday, as it’s traditionally labelled. Last month was Valentine’s Day.
There’s a day or a week to celebrate, raise attention to and make a fuss about everything, from World Oral Health Day, Potato Day and World Arthritis Day (October 12, if it’s your thing).
I’m not a fan of special days. They feel futile, trivialising important issues.
Jumping up and down about a particular cause for one day a year feels like tokenism, planning all the ‘profile raising’ activities and then shoving them back in the cupboard until next year. A day can never go even a baby step to solving a massive problem throughout the world.
If you’re in love, then every day should be Valentine’s Day, not saving the love hearts for February 14.
A mother’s love should be celebrated on the 364 other days of the year too. A bunch of daffodils and 12 hours of being made to feel special is lovely, of course, but not if normality resumes the next day with you feeling like an unappreciated, disrespected drudge.
So International Women’s Day should be no different to the rest of the year. Every day should feature demands for every girl – and boy, for that matter – to have an education, wherever in the world they might be.
Every day should see campaigns for every woman to be paid the same as a man doing the same job, working for every girl to have the same opportunity as the boy she started school alongside and that no woman should face and be expected to put up with sexual harassment or discrimination in any way.
The fight for women’s rights is a fight to be had every minute of every day until equality is achieved. It’s not about preaching feminist doctrine, well, it is really, but the word feminism seems to make men stick their finger; in their ears and yell ‘lalalala.”
It’s about fairness and one half of the population expecting and receiving the same rights, freedoms and opportunities, and rewards as the other half. It’s not hard to explain and understand. It shouldn’t be hard to achieve.
It’s about creating a world where there are no “pink jobs” and “blue jobs”, there are just jobs.
A world where doctors aren’t called “women doctors’, it’s not a media story for a woman to be flying a fighter jet and eyebrows aren’t raised by women on the frontline with their families back home.
Equally, it should never be worthy of comment about men doing “women’s work.”
A workforce of any company is made up of employees. It doesn’t matter if they are men or women. They are all workers entitled to the same rights and pay.
International Women’s Day was started in the early 1900s to highlight the inequalities as well as celebrate the achievements of women.
It’s still about the same issue today, demonstrating it’s nowhere near achieving those early ambitions.
Fighting for equality is not about shouting for rights for the privileged few, those already working their way to the top. It’s not about the boardroom or top pay at the BBC – these women have reached the lofty heights of their professions and can speak for themselves
It’s for the ordinary women doing ordinary jobs with ordinary lives, those women whose education, health and violence towards them is still worse than men.
The World Economic Forum states the gender pay gap won’t close until 2186. Some of Britain’s major companies still pay women less than half men’s salaries and can’t see the problem.
Today would be far better named International Equality Day, or International Fairness Day with men taking part too.
Women fighting for women, excluding men, feels partisan, retrograde and defeating the object of equality.
By making stark inequality a women’s issue, it’s still casting females as a minority, marginalised and in need of singling out to achieve attention, rather than half of the population, equally capable, talented and robust as the other half.
How much arts performances, talks, rallies, networking events, conference and marches do to achieve gender equality is questionable.
Attitudes don’t appear to be shifting fast, with hackles up at the mere mention of feminism.
A themed day a year - #Press for Progress this year – will never be enough. Equality and fairness between women and men need to be talked about every day, injustices highlighted and instances of unfairness shared every day.
Social media and female solidarity has helped expose sexual misconduct with the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement, opening the box of abuse and harassment women suffer in film, fashion, music, politics and art, which, is intolerable.
We need the same openness to share in cases of pay inequality, discrimination and barriers to opportunity.
Suffragettes would be aghast that still, 100 years on from the first female votes, so much but so little has changed.
They would be saddened that, largely, it’s still the women fighting alone.
Today should be a platform to launch every day as International Equality and Fairness Day until gender parity is achieved and no woman is a second-class citizen simply because she is female.