Happy International Women’s Day.
Did you know that in some countries IWD is a public holiday? An extra day off would be lovely, but that’s not really what it’s about. I don’t think.
The big thing about IWD – apart from celebrating women and all the wonderful things they do – is that it draws attention to the inequalities women still face.
Here are my International Women’s Day wishes:
That it becomes OK for women to look real and still believe they are attractive. I don’t mean that we give up grooming or that, in some way, a bit of slap is letting down the sisterhood. I mean that any young woman growing up these days would be forgiven for believing that adult women are hairless, slender, football-breasted and in possession of puffy lips in an unlined face. And this means that when they don’t match up to the images they see all over the internet, the telly and the papers, they feel dreadful. Can we teach our girls that it matters so very much more what they do with their minds than how their bodies look?
That we can get paid the same as a man for doing the same thing. It scunners me that this still isn’t the case.
That childcare and housework are not still, in the main, matters for women. I know some men do their fair share, but it’s not typical and it’s not the way the world perceives it. Hands up if you are a woman who has not or is not fulfilling her potential because you have children. Thought so.
That there are the same number of women as there are men who run the world. That means men and women in equal numbers in parliament, on boards, in quangos and everywhere else that decisions are made.
That girls grow up believing they are just as important and capable on every level as boys. That means the fairy tale of a handsome prince whisking them off their feet to a happy ever after has to be revised. He might still be handsome and a prince and you get a happy ever after, but it’s because of what you work on together not because he comes to the rescue.
That boys grow up believing girls are just as important and capable as them on every level. That they will go into the world and expect to be shoulder to shoulder with their sisters and that they see them as whole people, not simply the delivery system for sexual organs and domestic chores.
That ‘having it all’ was never a thing. You remember. The idea that you could ‘have it all’ if you wanted to. Career, kids, clean house, flat stomach. What it actually meant was that you had to play presenteeism at work to compete with your male colleagues, but that you had to balance that with exorbitant childcare that left you paralysed by guilt, because you’re supposed to be the home-baking earth mother too. Add to that a society that expects that you’ll be a perfect 10 with immaculate manicures and well-cut hair to match a scintillating social life. Only you were supposed to do it all without complaining and without any help from anyone or – crucially – without expecting anyone to do things differently in order for this to happen. Obviously that was impossible, no one could do it. But you can have a fulfilling career and a happy family life if we all – men and women – expect it and work towards it.
This year’s slogan is: Inspiring change. Next year, I’d like to suggest: IWD, not just for girls.