Every year on International Women’s Day the nay sayers congregate to ask the same two questions; why do we need an international women’s day? When is international men’s day? This year, comedian Richard Herring took them to task dedicating time to inform people that there is in fact an international Men’s Day and it is celebrated on the 19th of November.
1. Because consent.
And because victim-blaming. Not saying no doesn’t necessarily mean ‘yes’. Factoring in unreported rates (and estimated 68 per cent were unreported in the last five years) and shockingly low conviction rates (one in 30 rape prosecutions end in conviction), just 2 out of every 100 rapists will serve time.
And unless our government implements proper sex education for the next generation – who are frighteningly ill-equipped right now, as I’ve found – then this cycle will only continue to worsen.
2. Because objectification.
We should be proud of our bodies, but there’s a difference between being seen naked and being objectified. Objectification, like on Page 3 – where the girls’ voices are taken away – leads to increased domestic violence (two women are killed every week in the UK), sexual assault and rape.
3. Because cat-calling.
Not cool. And because we’d like to walk home alone without holding our keys as a makeshift weapon.
4. Because the power balance is still male heavy.
We are celebrating the fact that 22 per cent of seats in UK board rooms are held by women. Twenty-two per cent. There are 148 female MPs out of a total 650 members of parliament. Right now, there are more male MPs in Parliament than there have been women in the whole of British history. Because we’re still campaigning for equal pay (but making headway!).
5. Because FGM is not culture, it’s child abuse.
FGM affects 140million girls worldwide and the repercussions are grave. FGM is painful, causes heavy bleeding and infections, complications during childbirth and can make sex excruciating. It can be fatal. We need to end it in one generation, for good.
6. Because women should make their own decisions about their own bodies.
There are too many women around the world who are not afforded the right to choose whether they have an abortion. Harrowingly, an estimated 800,000 women and children are trafficked across international borders each year – and exploited for sex, pornography or bought in exchange for goods or money.
7. Because ‘chick-lit’.
Where’s the ‘dick-lit’? (PS “Chick-flick” is just as bad.)
8. Because women are funny.
Why is anyone questioning that?
9. Because we shouldn’t apologise so much.
It holds us back with our confidence and, crucially, at work. We don’t see men apologising for their kickass idea, so we shouldn’t add our ‘polite’ sorry ‘tick’ on the end of our sentences either.
10. Because women are awesome.
And we should celebrate incredible women more than ever on International Women’s Day. Here’s looking at you, Emma Watson.
And may I add to this list the fact that people still use the word “pussy” to mean “weak” and that we need more “levers in heels” and that we still do not get equal pay universally and that there are still areas in the world where having a son is considered better than having a daughter and whereas men can exist on their own terms without needing validation from us, there are still societies in which in order for a woman to be taken seriously, she needs to have a man beside her to validate her existence, even if it is a man who ill treats her when no-one is watching.
People who question the need for a day like this are often the same ones who say but you can vote now, things have changed. NoCeilings.Org says we are not there yet. For as long as these issues remain, International Women’s Day will also remain in our present. We however need to work everyday, not just on the 8th of March, to ensure that it doesn’t have to be a part of our future. Making it happen is not a one day thing. It is an everyday choice. It is a lifestyle.