Today – Wednesday 8 March – is International Women’s Day. It’s a day to celebrate and reflect on the achievements of women across the world but also to look at how far we have to go to achieve equality.
At the weekend, I was getting my five-year-old son and toddler daughter ready for their weekend activities. My son commented that boys couldn’t do ballet. I explained that boys could and he was amazed.
This is just one small example of the ways in which gender stereotypes are ingrained at such an early age, even when we’re trying so hard to avoid them as parents.
So that is one of a myriad of reasons that I am supporting International Women’s Day.
I want to live in a world in which my daughter isn’t called pushy and bossy for being assertive and confident. A world where my son knows that boys and men can do ballet and wear pink if they want to. A world where we raise our sons to see women as equal in all ways and where we raise our daughters to know the same.
I want equal pay and equal rights and all of the benefits they would bring to men and women across the globe. I want girls in every country to have access to free education and to be free from forced marriage, violence and exploitation.
I want women to be free to make choices about how they live their lives. I want mothers to know that the right choices for them and their family are the best ones no matter what people say. And I want women to have the confidence to apply for the jobs they have the skills to do and to apply to be on that board.
But we can’t do this alone. We need men and women, organisations and influencers to keep demanding more.
Yesterday, I attended an excellent session at the Welsh Council for Voluntary Action’s (WCVA) conference about women and wellbeing and what’s been achieved in the last 50 years. There much to celebrate and to be proud of in terms of legislation, flexible working and the continued conversation about equality across the globe.
But there is still more to do. One point the panel discussed was how many women today don’t describe themselves as feminists today despite living lives that wouldn’t have been possible without feminism. We talked about reclaiming feminism and I was so proud to hear so many panellists declare: “I am a feminist.”
So today is a day to listen to women’s voices and experiences across the world and to think about the ways in which we can support creating a more equal world for women and our daughters.
That could be by teaching our children not to limit their horizons and to rule out careers because of their gender.
It could be by encouraging the women around us to apply for that job or that training opportunity.
It could just be by declaring our support for feminism whether we are a man or a woman.
What are your thoughts on International Women’s Day? How are you showing your support?