AN equal world is an enabled world – the theme of International Women’s Day 2020. Tomorrow on March 8 the spotlight turns to women who are striving for gender parity, in business, in sport, in culture, and in their communities. IWD started in 1911, so now in a new century and a new decade are we making a difference?
It’s easy to say yes. There’s something in the air that feels like real change. The #metoo and #timesup movements were a palpable moment where women were not only being heard, but their voices were powerful. They were calling out previously untouchable media giants, companies, politicians and stars. Being male and powerful was suddenly no longer a shield. Out of it has come a real effort to shift, not only unpalatable men from their positions, but the views they represent, from public acceptance. We may be celebrating the downfall of Harvey Weinstein, and the shaming of Placido Domingo after admitting he sexually harassed women, but in Saudi Arabia women are still high fiving their right to own a passport without the consent of a male guardian.
Gender violence against women is still alarming. Last year was a dark year in Spain with 55 women killed either by partners or ex partners -the highest since 2015. In a disturbing move the Vox party is lobbying for cuts in funding to combat gender violence and a repeal of laws that protect women. Thankfully the government is ignoring these calls from the far right party.
So what does IWD mean to me?
As I see it, it’s not just about highly priced conference’s lauding business women and telling them how to make more money. That’s not the spirit of IWD.
Work is only a part of who we are.
Surely we should be joined in a common goal, asking for equal treatment in every area of life. Supporting each other and celebrating achievements – big and small. No one should feel if they aren’t superwoman, they aren’t worthy.
IWD is inclusive. It’s about me, you, your mother, daughter, friend, niece, aunt. It’s not just for high flyers. It’s about women who encourage other women in all areas of their lives.
In the 1980s I worked in a high pressured, hard nosed news room of a national tabloid newspaper in London. The editor was a woman. She was tougher than the men – she had to be. It had been a hard climb for her. She was firm but fair with her team and encouraged female reporters to thrive. She always had time to mentor all members of her team. Although she was clever, talented and deserved her role, behind her back, the men on the paper sneeringly called her ‘Gladys’ and plotted her downfall on a daily basis. In the end they won. But this feisty woman was not going to let the bastards grind her down, and she went on to create Women In Journalism, a group that provides mentoring, guidance and sponsorship for female journalists. She is still its Honorary President.
So this International Women’s Day, wear purple- the colour of the movement – with pride. Let’s celebrate us and what we have achieved and what we can continue to achieve. There’s still a lot to do. So who’s with me?