International Women’s Day.

As you may have guessed by the title of this post, today is International Women’s Day.  For those of you who have no idea what International Women’s Day is let me enlighten you.

International Women’s Day is a global celebration of social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.  The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.  This day marks the enormous contribution to humankind that women make.

This all may sound like some feminist tish-tosh but I can tell you from my position in the North of the UK women are still seen as the weaker sex.  You just have to look at businesses and politics to see the huge divide.  I don’t want this post to come across as a man bashing post because that is not my intention.

Being a woman is hard.  I suspect being a man has its difficulties too, but I am not qualified to comment about that.  From my experiences as a woman, I can understand the struggle many of us experience when it comes to equality in the workplace, or the lack of support in the business world because I am a woman.  These are my experiences and may not necessarily be the experiences other women  have had.  With that in mind, I am all in favour of days such as today.  I have read some negative stuff online about International Women’s Day being a day to get at men, to bully them.  From what I have seen over the past couple of years nothing could be farther from the truth.  the majority of women that I know want to be taken seriously as a person, not just a woman.  They want to have the same consideration when it comes to jobs, business, politics, sport, to name but a few.  Of course, there are jobs that men can do better than women and vice versa, but I don’t know any woman who is saying she needs to be equally considered in those roles.

Many moons ago society revered women, holding them in high esteem.  Now that we live in a patriarchal society the days of respect for women seem like nothing more than a distant memory, or even wishful thinking.  But the tide is turning, women are becoming less dominated and that is a good thing.  We hear so many stories about sexual violence and other violence against women, we would be forgiven for thinking that these crimes are on the rise.  But I think it is more to do with the fact that women are reporting these crimes now, whereas in the past many women would have been far too scared to come forward and blow the whistle on such crimes.  Women are taking back their independence, their self-respect, taking control of their lives.  They are less likely to allow men to rule over them, preferring to live in harmony alongside the men in their lives.

The view a lot of people have about women who want equality is very different to what it actually means.  Women who want equality in all aspects of their lives are seen as difficult, pushy, mad feminists  but nothing could be further from the truth.  Women who want equality love the men in their lives, even those women who are in same-sex partnerships, they will undoubtedly have men in their lives.  What I have found is that this myth about women who want equality are mad, radical feminists is usually purported by insecure men – that is not me male bashing by the way.  I want to be treat equally and I love and respect my husband, my son, my brothers and all of the other males who are in my life.  I was brutally attacked by a man when I was sixteen and I don’t hate men because of this.

Having a day where we celebrate women should be a positive experience.  I don’t see it as a negative way to hate on men.  If men decide they are going to have an International Men’s Day then I would fully support that.   I am not going to say “you don’t need this kind of thing because you already have all of the support you need.”  A day such as today is intended to raise awareness of the problems women face.  It is intended to celebrate those women who are successful, who have achieved the success men can very often take for granted.  Anyone who uses it as a way to put another person down, and that includes putting men down, isn’t really advocating the day or its’ purpose.  Saying men don’t need something similar in their lives isn’t really promoting equality either, certain men may have it all and were given the opportunity because of their gender, but that doesn’t mean all men have it all.

Whilst I am appreciative of this day to raise awareness to the inequality many women face around the world, and whilst I honour the women who inspire me, I also seek to raise awareness for equality for all because not all men are domineering decision makers who keep women down at heel.  There are plenty of men out there who strive to make this world a fairer place for all of us, not just a select few and I also honour them.

No doubt the arguments for and against days such as today will rage on long after the day is over, with both sides feeling they are victimised.  Human nature is a funny old thing and rather than supporting one another we often have to feel slighted by the strangest of things.  We could argue that a day like today wouldn’t be needed if women were treated fairly and equally.  Others will argue that most men don’t act this way and a day designed to celebrate just women deliberately misleads the public into thinking all men treat women like slaves.  Yes indeed, the arguments do and will continue to rage on.  The idea behind the day will be lost in the quest for who is right and who is wrong and pretty soon the brilliance of the idea will be tarnished, leaving a nasty taste in the mouths of those who sought to promote it as a peaceful, enlightening day.

Maybe what we truly need to promote is common sense.  Without common sense, the best of intentions becomes a hot-bed of mistrust and dissension over whose viewpoint is the correct one.  One seems blindingly obvious to one set of people is seen as utter nonsense by another and so the squabbling begins.  What if we all valued one another’s right to hold our own opinion?  What if we all acted like respectful human beings when we came across a differing opinion?  What if we all valued everyone’s contribution to society, whatever their gender?

We can but hope that such a time will arrive.  Until then, we celebrate such days as International Women’s Day.