WHAT IS INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY?
Women are amazing! We are incredible!
Below is an extract from a biography on Millicent Fawcett:
“She became well known as a speaker and lecturer—on political and academic subjects as well as women’s issues—in the 1870s, when women rarely ventured onto public platforms. Critics were disarmed by her appearance and manner — demure, slight, graceful, reasonable, a youthful but composed figure with a mass of amber hair and a ‘clear, silvery and expressive’ speaking voice” (Rubinstein, 38–9) (Oxford DnB)
A big disappointment for the women’s suffrage movement was when the Liberal government refused to countenance giving women the vote in their period in office 1901-1914. This encouraged the more militant suffragettes to engage in direct action – breaking windows and, when sent to jail, taking part in hunger strikes. This willingness to resort to violence caused a deep divide in the women’s movement. Fawcett and the NUWSS remained committed to achieving the vote through constitutional means and argued that militancy was counter-productive. Although Fawcett admired the courage of the more militant WPSU members, she blamed the WPSU’s direct action for preventing the government voting on the issue. In 1912, fed up with the Liberal’s opposition to giving women the vote, the NUWSS supported the nascent Labour Party.
On the outbreak of war in August 1914, Fawcett faced a divided movement. The militant WSPU enthusiastically supported the war, and Emily Pankhurst helped to encourage young men to join. However, many in the NUWSS were pacifists or supportive of international treaties to bring about peace negotiations. However, Fawcett supported the war.
Last year (2017) lots of things became apparent with women’s rights dominating the news, with a global reckoning on sexual misconduct rippling through industries bringing about popular hashtags on social media for women (and men) joining together to fight discrimination #pressforchange.
The recent one being #timesup that has followed on from the prior hashtag of #metoo and the #metoo movement gave voice to all women who had experienced sexism, sexual assault, lesser pay and harassment which has become more spoke about since a Hollywood mogul called Harvey Weinstein has had many allegations against him of misconduct such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Ashley Judd and Myleene Klass ranging from popular to the lesser known celebrities. So many women are supporting this cause now, encouraging the change – including popular celebrities like Alyssa Milano, Lady Gaga and Jensen Ackles so no, it isn’t just women supporting the cause. Of course it isn’t just about female ‘celebrities’ getting recognition it’s about the female population because we all matter and women are also paid less than half than men at some of Britain’s major companies, according to recent gender pay gap figures.
There is so much information and stories online, through people and the papers but change will always be happening. Change is fluid. We’ve come so far and I hope my daughters, her daughters daughters will have improved lives in regards to this. We should all be able to be allowed the same rights, surely?
Please note it isn’t just women objectified I’m not saying that at all – the point is equality because yes each gender is different physically but so is every single person! Different sets of skills, genetics, talent, beliefs and jobs and lets not forget we also have gender neutral now and transgender and who represents them.
I have been lucky enough to of known and still know strong women – may we be them and may we raise them – my mother is a strong inspiration for me. She is a woman of slight build, middle aged with curly hair and the shoe size of an elf and without her support over the years I haven’t a clue where I’d be. As a teenager I wasn’t the greatest, in fact I would put any woman to shame back then with my lack of commitment to projects yet my daughter came and I felt reborn and my mother inspires me to be that person, to be better.
I will always have my flaws and I’m not as strong as my mother nor as well education (a nurse turned midwife with other courses under her belt) she is literally the best woman I can think of with the resilience, patience and love of a saint. A woman who has been thrown down time and time again yet carries on, fights on, works for her empire and to support not just her children but her grandchildren. She was another woman disregarded by man yet that didn’t stop her finding love and she’s been married since age twenty five, they’ve built a business together as well as supporting me as an adult.
My nana is another woman who inspires me as a female as she worked her way up just like my mother has – I’ve been so privileged in my life it’s unreal – my nana is now 79 has a son and daughter, 7 grandchildren – (5 of which are female) and 8 great grandchildren with another one due this summer – 3 of whom are female. In her era it wasn’t how it is now with the grandparents being so hands on, all the issues raised today back then were ignored as it was a mans world yet she has managed to evolve with the times although some things should probably still be the same like the idealisms sound great.
She has her own core beliefs of course which we do disagree on but after her husband, my grandpa, died she carried on even including having a companion who she dumped as he didn’t make her happy and it’s not about someone making you of worth its about you making you of worth so if an elderly woman can see that why can’t another generation. Women unite. Empower woman.
Having two daughters and recognising as a mother you want your children to have freedom of mind, body and soul I believe International Women’s Day is important, the change begins with each of us.
I raise my eldest daughter with the belief she can achieve what she wants and to do whatever she wants and I’ll raise my new daughter the same because I don’t want them weakened like me and I will try my best to make them proud of me not just as a mother but as a millennial female.
The opinions here are my own so if you disagree that’s ok as everyone is entitled to their own opinions and as time moves forward maybe my own thoughts and feelings will change as I heal and grow but I will always aim to be a strong female for my children.
WHAT VALUES DRIVE INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY?
Ten values that guide International Women’s Day are:
As modern day Suffragettes – female, male and all genders – let us continue the work and spirit of the almighty Suffragettes, fighting the good fight. And let us recognize, honor and celebrate the important and impressive achievements of women globally.
While the concept of justice may differ across cultures, the notion of justice is based on respect and equality amongst people. The Suffragettes toiled unreservedly for justice, dignity and hope. Justice means being afforded the same equal rights and opportunities as men. Today through International Women’s Day, the call for justice across the world still prevails as women seek equal treatment, conditions and opportunities to that of men.
A leading organisation campaigning for Women’s suffrage in the United Kingdom, the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) that existed from 1903 – 1917 with membership and policies tightly controlled by Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters Christabel and Sylvia, adopted from 1908 the colour purple to symbolise dignity. Dignity, as a value, refers to the idea that all people have the right to be valued, respected and receive ethical treatment. The word is derived from Latin dignitas meaning worthiness.
Hope is the feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. The Suffragettes campaigned tirelessly for a better world, one where they trusted that women would receive equal rights and opportunities. The Suffragettes symbolised the value of hope with the colour green. The Suffragette colours were used on banners, flags, rosettes and badges.
Equality means ensuring all people have equal opportunities to make the most of their lives and talents, and that no one has poorer life chances due to their background or status – the very core of International Women’s Day. Gender equality refers to women receiving and accessing the same opportunities and benefits as men – but throughout history, women were deemed to have no place in politics. They couldn’t stand as candidates for Parliament and they weren’t allowed to vote as it was assumed husbands would take responsibility for political matters because a woman’s role was seen to be child-rearing and taking care of the home.
Just as Suffragettes rallied together, as did the earlier Suffragists, so too do modern day women (and men) who understand that there is power in unity. Strength in numbers and voice are critical in driving change. International Women’s Day was founded on collaboration, and continues to be a key element of its power to this day. Across the world individuals and groups unite, not only to celebrate the achievements of women, but to continue to call for action supporting greater gender parity.
Tenacity was a key principle of both the Suffragists and the Suffragettes, and their tireless effort in fighting the good fight changed history. “Deeds not words” was the Suffragettes’ motto and they devoted considerable attention and effort to forging the rights of women. Around the world today, as in the past, exists an extensive number of groups and networks all working to improve the social, economic, cultural and political status of women – and International Women’s Day is the major day for rallying action, driving visibility and applauding women who make a difference through their achievements.
International Women’s Day provides a specific and designated moment each year to identify and celebrate the successful achievements of women. Through celebrating success, populations not only become more appreciative of the role women play in contributing to society but awareness and expectation is increased that women will not be marginalised, discriminated against or absent from future successes moving forward.
Equality can only be achieved if the diversity, differences and qualities of women are truly valued. Respect for others is a key value underpinning the ethos and agenda of International Women’s Day. Respect for others and respect for self play an important part in forging gender equality.
Seeking to understand others, caring for and valuing diversity, and appreciating difference are key to forging deep relationships to affect change. It’s through the ability to understand and share the feelings of others that differing situations and perspectives can be grasped. International Women’s Day calls for global understandings about the plight of women – the challenges faced, obstacles endured and changes desired for an inclusive and progressive world.
Throughout history women have been mistreated – and still to this day women suffer harsh and inhumane treatment through to continuing discrimination in the workplace. Focusing attention and effort on the way forward, reconciling discrimination through encouraging awareness and banding together to affect positive change is all part of what International Women’s Day stands for.
Use these values to deeply understand and drive your own International Women’s Day activity as you call for action and/or celebrate women’s achievements. Looking back to look forward, values like these have guided women’s campaigning for action and recognition.