09/03/2011

International Women's Day - It's still a bit of a struggle...

Yesterday was the centenary of International women’s day(IWD) a day originally held as part of a campaign for women’s rights (to work, hold office etc), the brainchild of a visionary lady Clara Zetkin (Leader of the 'Women's Office' for the Social Democratic Party in Germany). The tradition happily has continued with successive IWD's having different themes annually and by location. 

All good? Definitely, the courageous ladies (and gentlemen) who supported the ethos IWD and fought for women’s rights in general are undoubtedly responsible for the position women occupy in the, most, of the world today.  The IWD website suggested that women who blog, do something for IWD focusing one of the themes below:
  • What does it mean to have equal access to education, training and science and technology for women, and how do we get there?
  • Describe a particular organization or moment in history that helped to mobilize a meaningful change in equal access to education, training and science and technology for women.
I toyed briefly with taking up the challenge, but found that when I put 'finger to keyboard', thoughts on the topic above were not foremost in my mind. So what was foremost in my mind? Basically, all of the horror stories that I have been reading/keeping track of re the plight of women in 'developing' countries. I don't just mean the DR Congo, or parts of Mexico where the violence against women is of nightmarish proportions, but also countries like Egypt, where the stats regarding sexual assaults in women is shocking; and India where domestic violence is rife and unchecked; some (and I can't stress enough), not all Muslim countries where child brides are justified by incorrect interpretations of the Koran; the tendency of some gypsys, right here in the UK, to pull their girls out of education and marry them off early; honour killings, where girls dare to resist forced marriages; the list goes on.

It's difficult not to be depressed, especially against the backdrop if IWD, because it makes you wonder if the world has actually advanced at all and more importantly how on earth do we address this. The issue is complex because it spans nations and to be attributable it to any one reason/religion/race would simplistic. The issue, in my mind is that culturally, across the world, women appear to be regarded as chattel and even at time slaves. As with any 'property' that you own, technically, you can do with it as you will and that seems to be manifesting itself in sexual abuse, violence and in the worst cases, murder.

Appealing to the moral sensibilities of the perpetrators doesn't appear to be 'fixing' the situation. Educating boys and men is clearly important and any efforts in that respect should be lauded and continued. Education though, takes time, the issue needs to be approached from a different angle. How about using and economic argument? I believe I am correct in saying that there is no developed nation in the world that doesn't have some degree of gender equality. Economic success is obviously going to be easier to achieve via maximum utilisation of all the resource at your disposal - women's brains and energy are part of that resource. Countries that deny women rights, to a voice, as well as merely safe passage, will invariably falter. Perhaps next years IWD should focus on ways to develop that argument? Just a thought...


It's not all doom and gloom though! Women across the world are achieving great things and making strides forward and one of the features of IWD is that it is a platform to show case this. So to that end, please have a look at some of the following:

The Daily Beast did an excellent feature on 150 inspirational women


The Guardian also had a Top 100 women piece


Most if the major newspapers ran something pertinent - Nice piece from the Daily Mirror on Emily Pankhurst

Not specific to IWD, but women in the UK are making strides in business and government. The women who make up the board of the City Women's network having an impressive set if CV's. 

High point for me was Daniel Craig, looking fab in drag(!) for a IWD advert - more of that on a regular basis please :-)


No comments:

Post a Comment