International Women’s Day - March 8


In 2018, officially 100 years on from the first female votes earned by Suffragette efforts, it has never been more important to continue our fight for equality. Particularly in the instance of the workplace, whilst women are more often visibly gaining ground in securing jobs higher up the career ladder and in a variety of different fields, the glass ceiling is unfortunately still very much in place. On this day of awareness, we need to look at the amazing feats of incredible female role models to remind us that, whilst challenging the social norm can be difficult, it is possible if we speak out together. From Michelle Obama to Marie Curie, Angela Merkel to Maya Angelou, women have taken the lead in so many fields and made great, positive changes that have completely altered the course of history for other females.
That ability to change history is being put into action every day. Most noticeably, at the moment, there has been a wave of children’s books encouraging young girls to pursue whatever career they dream of, whether that be becoming a ballet dancer or an astronaut. The recently published Goodnight Stories For Rebel Girls 2 is adding some of those real women to the bookshelves, opposed to the picture books where females are present only as silent princesses who would never pass the Bechdel test. It might not sound like much to just change the characters of children’s stories, but these are the first instances of where gender differentiation starts to come into place. In renovating a much outdated literary attitude, the globe is already beginning to reap the rewards. The rates of women entering into STEM careers is gradually on the rise, as can be said for other male-dominated fields such as politics and directing, and this is no doubt a homage to the fact that female role models are becoming further visible to young girls across the world.
Breaking the glass ceiling is no easy feat, and it does take time. It takes women from many professions, of all backgrounds and ages, standing up together to defend the fact that women are just as capable as any other gender of being successful, creative, and innovative. It is for this reason that I have been an active part of the feminist society at my university and encourage friends studying elsewhere to do so also. We are a collection of varied individuals who meet to discuss the inequality in society, how this might be altered, and plan our own ways to get involved in inspiring change. At the moment, we have been working on a careers campaign to circulate around university regarding women in the workplace, as well as being involved with the Healthy Relationships project set up by the wellbeing team. This means we help out at consent workshops, speak with students from all across the campus, and also fundraising for a variety of different charities to get women’s voices heard. For example, at the moment we’re organising events for Coppafeel and Smalls For All, as well as engaging with the red box project which is focusing on ending period poverty within the U.K. Being able to discuss the representation of gender and then go ahead with doing something to make a positive difference is so rewarding. These people have become some of my closest friends and together, we empower each other and hopefully inspire others too.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, there are countless examples of women who have changed the world in some way and who are continuing to do so right now. We as the next generation owe it to one another to take the future by the hand and guide it best we can. Things will not progress if we choose to take to the sidelines and ignore the problem, opposed to pursuing Emmeline Pankhurst’s vision of fighting for Justice. The rights we have now have not always been in place and, should we choose to forget that, they will be placed at risk. In remembering those figures who have made a difference regarding gender equality today, let us also remember what Emma Watson said in her He For She campaign: If not me, then who? If not now, then when? All of us, every gender, every race, every class, are feminists if we stand for gender equality. Those stereotypes that are applied to all of us need to be shattered so that we can exist in the workplace and in our own lives without being confined to the boxes we are far too often placed in. We are more than labels; we are bright, independent, amazing individuals. Let’s grab our collective hammers and begin taking to that glass ceiling, breaking it down, so that one day no dream seems too impossible and we live in a brighter, kinder, more compassionate world.

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