In the early 1900s, along side the challenges of industrialisation, population growth and the rise of radical ideologies, women began their own fight against oppression and inequality. A movement started by women for women and led by women. So we have come a long way and of the back of some amazing legends.
History aside, 8th March has come to be a poignant day, to raise awareness, advocate and celebrate women from all paths of life. As a woman, I am a great believer that my rights and opportunities should not differ from anyone else. Rights are rights, regardless of your gender, age, colour, race, abilities, social and economic status or education. However, that Utopia is still under construction...!!!
The challenges facing women and girls were already complex, but COVID-19 has thrown its own dark cloud, as it wonderfully does, in the recent 12 months.
In July 2020, an article by McKinsey & Company on COVID-19 & Gender Equality, highlighted that:
- Women’s jobs are 1.8 times more vulnerable to crisis than men’s,
- Women make up 39% of global employment but account for 54% of overall job losses,
- The pandemic had significantly increased the burden of unpaid care, which is disproportionately carried by women,
- Women are more vulnerable to COVID-19 related economic effects because of existing gender inequalities.
In separate survey by the Australian Institute of Criminology, almost 10% of women in a relationship had experienced domestic violence during the pandemic crisis. 50% had experienced a sharp increase in the frequency and severity of violence.
In another survey by Beyond Blue, more women than men experience high or very high levels of psychological distress (14.5% and 11.3% respectively). Women aged 18-24 years had the highest rate of psychological distress of any age group or sex in 2017-18.
So where does that leave us? All doom and gloom? I say Not. I challenge us to have open conversations without polarising gender issues, to advocate openly, fiercely, concretely, loudly, kindly and wisely. Let us educate our communities, men AND women, and provide them with the right tools to challenge the status que. Let us be warriors not because it is about Women’s rights, but because it is about equal rights. full stop. Let us challenge and hold accountable our law maker. Let us take our voice, to our schools, boardrooms, courtrooms and help break that glass ceiling and set the stage for our women and girls to shine and inspire. I will leave you with one of my favourite quotes by Nora Ephron:
Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women.’
Happy International Women’s Day