On International Women’s Day we are being asked to
“reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.”
This year’s theme, “Empowering Women – Empowering Humanity: Picture It!” envisions a world where each woman and girl can exercise her right to equality in politics, education, work and live in a society where she is not abused or discriminated because of her gender. Twenty years ago 189 governments signed the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a roadmap that set the agenda for realizing women’s rights. An impressive and progressive blueprint and although progress has been made in some parts of the world there is still a long way to go.
In a recent interview Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the executive director of UN Women, stated that:
“there is not a single country in the world that has achieved gender equality. A girl born today will have to wait 50 years before she’s projected to have an equal chance at running a government. She’ll have to wait 70 years before the pay gap evens out, and she’ll have to wait 81 years before she might have the same chance as a man of being the CEO of a company. The gender gap and violence against women are “global phenomena” caused by male domination in the world. Women’s bodies are viewed not as something to respect, but as something that men have the right to control and to abuse.”
If you supported the recent demands to protect our rights for freedom of speech you can now affirm your support for campaign for international civil rights and social justice for the women of the world, je suis feministe. Basic human rights for women is not a feminist issue, it is gender neutral and an integral part of any campaign for equality and freedom for everyone irrespective of their gender, ethnicity, religion or physical or mental health.
“Deeds not Words” was the call to “wake up the nation” in the 1903 the ‘votes for women’ campaign spearheaded by Women’s Social and Political Union (W.S.P.U). It is a timely reminder to those of us who enjoy the advantages of living in a western democracy, with all its limitations, that we must not forget that most women around the world don’t even have basic human rights, and that we have a responsibility to continue what the women of the WSPU began.
The modern interpretation of “deeds not words” is not necessarily a call for militancy, direct action or civil disobedience, it is about exercising our democratic right to vote and lobby. I am sure if I chained myself to the croft gate as a protest no one would take any notice but some kind soul would probably call for the man in white coats. However, we can make a difference by leading by example, nurturing others and pushing for education and equity for women and girls in the workplace and society. I have always passionately believed that one of the most important tenets of feminism is a girl’s right to education.
Education liberated me and throughout my life I have been fortunate to have had both role models and mentors to inspire me and give me the confidence to achieve my aspirations. If I thought it would do any good, then I would chain myself to the railings, but in the meantime I’ll try to set a good example by writing and exercising my democratic rights, although I’m not sure about my suitability as a role model.
My 200th post is dedicated to my mentors and role models, everyone who has and continues to fight for basic human rights and International Women’s Day.