OPINION: International Women's Day is about equality and understanding

Ruth Davies says International Women's Day is a day of understanding the benefits women bring to the world

Ruth Davies says International Women's Day is a day of understanding the benefits women bring to the world - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Today’s date has been recognised as International Women’s Day for more than a century and in some countries it’s even an official holiday. But why do we need it? And why isn’t there an International Men’s Day to balance things out?

Well, though we’ve come a long way since the Suffragettes fought for women’s rights to vote and the days when we could only do a “man’s” job when he was off at war, women still have a fight on their hands when it comes to equality.

The gender pay gap and a lack of females in leadership roles is just the tip - so while commercially IWD has become a place to buy the woman in your life a bunch of flowers, we still need to highlight the inequalities women face every day and this date is the right place to start.

Women can (and do) do everything men can, but often for less pay and with sacrifice needed in order to achieve the same. Unlike for men, if generations are to continue, it is a women who carries that generation within her body and feeds them from her breasts. This in itself proves tricky for equality, proves a need for thought to ensure it.

The juggle of combining a career, where breaks can be detrimental, at the same time as bearing children and raising them, should be celebrated and rewarded, yet sadly, is still often the mechanism which allows women to be passed over in the workforce.

It would be far easier to be able to have a family with no disruption to your body or hormones.

No need, or desire, to take time out to adjust to caring for a newborn. To instead have the ability to wet the baby’s head for a fortnight then carry on with work as normal.

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And I know the story isn’t the same for everyone, some men are incredibly hands on, sharing equally in family life and ensuring for them, personally, the unity is entirely equal; but on the whole, society dictates a systematic acceptance of roles, even though the cost of living dictates two incomes are necessary.

Things do have to change in the bigger picture. Even the most willing of men would find it impossible to dilate his cervix producing a human, biology dictates that, so flexibility and understanding is key.

Equality would be assisting women (and men if they need it) as they combine parenting with work. Not making it harder or punishing. Of course, it should go without saying men and women, doing the same jobs, should be paid the same, but it often doesn’t actually work that way.

Flexible working is something long seen as a detriment to the workforce with an unwillingness to compromise on what’s always been the norm but we are slowly beginning to realise the wrong in this thanks to the likes of Anna Whitehouse, known as Mother Pukka on social media, and her kick starter Flex Appeal.

The word is getting out there, women can be productive post-children and do just as good a job as men, accommodating them to make their working lives fit around their roles at home.

The benefits have been proven to employers as not just something to help the employee but them too. A flexible workforce is a more productive workforce. And women need flexibility after they have children more than ever, while they need and deserve equal pay from the get go.

When we stand behind each other, greatness is achieved. We just need the rest of the world on board because it has been said the effects of the pandemic have set back gender equality by 25 years. That was time we could have ill afforded.

So celebrating women on International Women’s Day, having these conversations as a result, and pushing for changes to be made in order that we are all equal both in pay and in understanding, is entirely necessary. It’s not just about empowering women but empowering all human beings and bringing to the forefront that for women, things are not as they should be. Yet.

There is a saying, a quip told at the tables of dinner parties in the 50s that ‘behind every great man is a great woman’.

Actually, behind every great person is another great person, for all it really takes for us all to be great is the ability for us all to be able to lean on each other when we need to. Men, women, people.

When people unite, when people work together, when we all understand we are equally as important as each other, that’s when we might not need to celebrate women on their own, shining the lights on inequalities women face.

So for today, for International Women’s Day, here’s to women: Great ones, strong ones, intelligent ones, flexible ones and to all great people who are behind them.

May we know great women, be great women and raise great women who fight the fight for equality until we have it. It’s not a lot to ask.

Happy International Women’s Day to us all.

Ruth Davies has a parenting blog at www.rocknrollerbaby.co.uk