Happy International Women’s Day folks! In a change from the usual, today I want to voice my views on a subject close to my heart, women’s liberation, feminism, gender equality… Whatever you want to label it, it’s the idea that women are of equal value to men.
In the last few years, we’re already having more conversation about women’s rights than I’ve witnessed throughout most of my life. Growing up, equality was barely discussed. Most of us seemed to assume we’d ‘done it’. We could wear trousers, vote, go to school. We’ve won. And then social media arrived and we all started talking a lot more and cans of worms got opened left right and centre.
At first I was elated, diving in to sites like The Every Day Sexism project, waving my hands, shouting up: #MeToo. But then the aftermath. What next? What now that I’ve contributed? Does that fix it? How do we fix it? A study I read about today showed we are over 200 years away from gender parity. Complaining about it certainly won’t get us there any faster.
Don’t get me wrong. The #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns are something I still support, and we need to continue driving conversations about the systematic abuse of women in countries all over the world.
But I think we can agree that women are oppressed. 2 women a week in the UK die from domestic violence each WEEK. A quarter of girls in the developing world don’t have a primary school education. Countries still carry out FGM. Those are some facts, but CHRIST. 50% of us are also living it, and we know. We are talking about it. With hashtags.
There is something missing from the conversation.
Deeds not words.
If you don’t know, that was a motto the suffragettes used. It took them a long time, but they didn’t just sit around, complaining that they didn’t have the vote. They marched. They broke windows. They threw themselves under horses. Those women got us to where we are today, and I think we need to repeat the effort for our daughters and our grand daughters.
In order to effect change we need real, disruptive action. We need to break windows. We need to shout, and not just at glitzy award ceremonies. We’ve exposed the issue, and now we need to start solving it. It’s the hard part, but this shit has gone on far too long.
I don’t want to overlook the fact that change IS happening. Landmark initiatives such as shared maternity and paternity leave, new domestic abuse laws and demands for information on the gender pay gap are all paving the way for us, pointing us in the right direction. But laws don’t change sociological beliefs, particularly ones that have been held for millennia. Like inception, we need to go deeper. This IWD, break a (perhaps proverbial) window*. Go on strike. Shout. Let’s take the conversation off the keyboards, into the streets and into parliament.
What do you think? Is conversation enough to incite change?
*Please don’t send me the bill