Ladies, happy International Women’s Day! I’ve loved today, i’ve felt a sense of bonding among women, and some great men too. I’ve loved seeing all the quotes on girl power, all the photos of women coming together; it’s a great day for the sisterhood – and still an entirely necessary way to spend 24 hours because in the UK, men and women are still not treated equally.
Despite the fact today has mostly been terrific, I can’t help but roll my eyes at the men that took to twitter demanding an International Men’s Day, claiming feminism has “gone too far”.
Now, let’s shout a little louder for the self-declared non-feminists at the back: Men and women in the UK are still not equal. Yes, we’ve made a lot of progress in the last 100 years, but thatdoes not mean we have equality between the sexes even in Britain in 2018. Kapeesh?
Let’s give a few examples – despite the fact women tend to do better in school and apply for more places at university than our male counterparts, women are still grossly underrepresented in senior roles. In politics, we’ve had just two female leaders, and our House of Commons is approximately one third women – and that’s the best ratio we’ve ever had. Just six, six women head up FTSE 100 companies – there are literally more men named John leading FTSE 100 boards then there are women in charge. In terms of something that will affect us all, men typically amass a pension pot five times, yes, FIVE times the size of women’s (£179,091 compared with £35,700).
Earlier today, Piers Morgan tweeted the following:
On #InternationalWomenDay, a reminder that in Britain, women rule…
Prime Minister: female
Home Secretary: female
Scotland 1st Minister: female
Head of London fire service: female
Head of Met Police: female
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) March 8, 2018
Despite the fact Piers considers himself a feminist (and I don’t disagree with all the feminist conclusions he comes to), I doubt the undertone behind the tweet was one of the sisterhood. International Women’s Day is important because it’s so unusual to see this number of women in powerful positions. Imagine for the moment, those were male names. Who would bat an eyelid? I wouldn’t. We’ve become so used to seeing men in charge of absolutely-bloody-everything that it’s entirely normal to see only men in these six positions. The very fact I am vaguely surprised to see this written down is exactly why the day is necessary even in democratic, Western, first-world nations like Britain – we’re just not quite there yet on the equality front.
I have been lucky enough never to have experienced sexual harassment, I also believe I have never experienced discrimination because of my gender, yet. However, i’m not so foolish to think that i’m likely to skip through the rest of my life so trouble free. What I have experienced however, is not being taken seriously because I am a woman. I’ve found myself drowned out of conversations about things like fitness with my male friends because, I assume, it’s presumed I don’t know enough about the topic because I have a vagina. For young women working in decent organisations, I think the number one difficulty facing us is to prove our intelligence is on par with our male colleagues. We do live in a patriarchal society, and it’s these subtle prejudices inherent in too many of us that are preventing us from being treated truly equally.
To the men whining about our “special day”, sit down and zip it. International Men’s Day occurs 264 days of the year (and officially on the 19th of November, as you so desperately seem need a day), let us have one damn day to come together and point out what every right-thinking human being should appreciate: Although we have come a long way, and we are so fortunate to live in a country like Britain, we’ve still got a hell of a way to go before men and women are truly held as equals.