Today is a day, according to the UN, “when women are recognised for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political”. In a contemporary climate overshadowed with threats of fear, hate, instability and the alt-right, it is vitally important to remember and celebrate women past, present and future. Without the constant and determined fight of women throughout history, many of the benefits that all of us live with would not exist – benefits that reach society as a whole through a society working as a whole, and not a half.
But today we thank not only those who paid their lives for our freedom, but think on those who have still to gain theirs. International Women’s Day, aside from serving to memorialise the strength of those who fought for our rights, is a platform to speak about the inequalities that still reign in the lives of women everywhere. As a citizen of a western country I can only be thankful that my rights become one step closer to equalisation every day, but is it with sorrow that I am forced to read, far too frequently, accounts of women across the world constrained and punished for what ultimately is an outward detail.
And so today, I raise these women up. I raise every 1 in 4 young girls in developing countries that have not finished their primary education. I raise every 1 in 3 women experiencing physical or sexual violence in their lifetimes, according to the World Health Organisation. I raise those women exposed to FGM; the women not entitled to own or inherit their own land; the child-brides; the women trapped in war; and every other woman struggling to reach their full potential through limited access to equal opportunities. I raise these women up not only as a reminder that there is still gendered suffering in the world, but in the hope that one day these women will be freed from their chains.
Happy International Women’s Day to everyone around the world, and may the future bring equality to the whole of humanity.