International Women’s Day: Inspiring Change

Saturday 8 March 2014 by

International Women's Day, 2014, Women's rights

Today is International Women’s Day. Since the early 1900s, International Women’s Day has been around as a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women throughout history. It’s even a national holiday in some countries. But it also has a larger purpose – to raise awareness of the great inequalities and injustices women continue to experience, and to bring about change.

This IWD, the theme is exactly that; Inspiring Change. Today encourages change to challenge the status quo, to raise awareness of the issues that still affect women worldwide – from sexism to sexual abuse, the right to vote, the right to an education and the right to be in charge of their own body. It is still not equal for women, not by any stretch of the imagination, and IWD is fighting to change that. In the UK alone, there have been, and will be, 417 events up and down the country in honour of International Women’s Day 2014.

Here’s to strong women.
May we know them.
May we be them.
May we raise them.

As a white middle class British woman, I should not have to come up against inequalities. But I do more often than you think. I don’t believe there is a single country that allows its female population exact equality with its male population – whether that is through restricting their rights, threatening their very lives, or straightforward disrespect. I can hardly sit here and say what we need to do to change this – this issue is bigger than I can hope to understand. Instead, I can only raise my hand and take part. The small changes add up to the bigger ones and that is why International Women’s Day remains as relevant as it did when it began in 1911.

Whether you are taking part actively or, like me, raising a small voice to join in, that is a small change. Inequality, fear, violence – none of this will go away until people stand up to it. Nothing will change until we turn around and say: No, this is wrong, and we won’t let this happen anymore. Let International Women’s Day be the springboard for this. Let us celebrate the very fact that we are women, or that we know women. Let us celebrate the fact that women are smart, funny, beautiful, unique and strong. And to those that seek to stop those celebrations, who try to tell us otherwise, we say: time to change.

Find out more

Helen Pankhurst has been speaking to Marie Claire about the 5 ways you can make a difference.

Four gender-equality campaigners discuss feminism and women’s rights on The Guardian.

The Guardian has also shared pictures of mothers and daughters in celebration of International Women’s Day.

The Independent asked its women writers to answer 5 questions to find out why International Women’s Day still matters.

Follow International Women’s Day on Twitter, either through the hashtag #IWD2014 or @womensday.

“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights” — Gloria Steinem

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