International Women’s Day – Do We Really Need One?

International Women’s Day – do we really need one anymore? The answer to this question is a resounding yes.

A lot of people assume we don’t need an International Women’s Day because women are treated equally by law in the UK. This narrow minded view excludes any other country or different cultural norms that still restrict women in every aspect of their lives. All you need to do is pick up a book like Half the Sky, How to Change the World to uncover the atrocities faced by women across the world. Just because women in the UK aren’t necessarily being sold into prostitution, it doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Every day 38,000 women are forced into marriage and an estimated 1.2 million children are forced into slavery, 80% of those being girls. Catapult’s glossy magazine spoofs are an effective way of comparing our narcissistic culture to those where women do not even have the luxury of autonomy and are seen as a commodity rather than human beings.

The above view also ignores the fact that women are not, in reality, treated equally within the UK. They unjustly receive lower wages and have to survive in a system that is biased towards men. A woman may have equal opportunity in our society, but they are often not hired due to the prospect of pregnancy. The way businesses are set up do not allow for children and makes it a fault of the woman rather than the businesses’. If workplaces were to change and enforce onsite childcare facilities, women wouldn’t be forced to choose between a career and a baby. This is why the majority of women are forced into less well paying part-time jobs and this is not the way it has to be.

There is also the problem of everyday sexism where women are treated differently simply because they are women. The Everyday Sexism Project is a remarkable demonstration of this and the fact that things like Page 3 still exist goes to show that women are still majorly objectified in a society that purports to promote gender equality.

So when people like Lily Allen claim that ‘feminism shouldn’t even be a thing anymore‘, we should remember the wider struggle for women’s rights and realise that something like International Women’s Day is there to help people who haven’t been privvy to a huge number of societal and economic advantages. Most women are discriminated against on a daily basis and the battle for equality is far from over, including within the UK.

Originally posted here for The National Student.

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