This weekend women (and men) walked in their millions to protest a multitude of issues that have touched all of our lives in one way or another. Although many believe it to be an unnecessary commotion against the Trump regime which will make no difference, the #WomensMarch was so much more than that; the images that have filled my social media feeds over the last few days have shown that this was more than just a popular protest against a new president, but a way of us all expressing our frustration, anger, sadness and worry of what’s to come. In the last few decades we’ve progressed so much on the road to equality, but we’re really not there yet – if anything, we’re set to take a step back over the coming few years as Trump revokes legislation that made a real difference to people far beyond US borders. (Partner that with the impending Brexit mess, where established European equality rights are under threat too, and we’re in a bit of a mess.) And that’s why these marches went global; that’s why these events saw people from all backgrounds, ethnicities, sexualities and ages take to the streets with their sassy signs to show everyone that they’d had enough. That’s why the fight is just beginning.
DO NOT BE AFRAID OF CALLING YOURSELF A FEMINIST
As far as I’m concerned (unless you’re an arsehole,) everyone should be a feminist. (It’s a scary word, I get it, but if you’re not a feminist then please explain your reasoning?) In case you’re wondering, feminism is defined as a range of political movements, ideologies and social movements that share a common goal: to define, establish and achieve political, economic, personal and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities in education and employment, access to healthcare and to be at no disadvantage simply because of their gender. Who would not want that? As a feminist (and yes I’m proud to use that label,) I’m willing to do
what I can (no matter how small) to make a change for the future and
impact lives around the world in a positive way.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have grown up in an environment that encouraged me to do whatever I wanted to do, to break down barriers and to reach for the stars; yet I have still had to fight for equal pay and recognition in the workplace, to justify my place at a meeting table simply because I have boobs and to prove that I can be interested in lipstick and politics simultaneously. Over the last few decades we’ve progressed so far, but there is still a long road ahead of us – as we can all testament to when we really start to think about what impact inequality has on a daily basis. (And this is even before we start to consider the inequality of WOC, LGBT and disabled women. Then I just want to cry.)
As women we still make less than a man for doing the same job – whether that’s in tech, as a CEO, as an athlete or as a doctor. As women we still don’t have full rights over our own bodies, as men are continually debating and making choices that impact our uteruses. As women we still have to pay tax on sanitary products because they’re classified as a ‘luxury’. (If men had periods you know that would have been scrapped decades ago.) As a woman we still have to justify our outfit choices and defend ourselves when men think they have the right to touch us. As a woman we still have to fight to breastfeed in public and apologise for those we offend in the process. As women we’re constantly scrutinised for our appearance, whether that’s a celebrity who is a bit soft around the tummy or a Prime Minister who happens to like shoes. As women we’re valued on our looks rather than our brains, but suffer vitriol if we dare take care of our appearance more than is deemed acceptable. It’s exhausting.
BE THANKFUL FOR THOSE THAT CAME BEFORE YOU
If it wasn’t for those that came before us standing up and wanting to be heard, we would not have the lives we do now. We wouldn’t have had the right to an equal education or even the right to work; we wouldn’t have had the right to vote or have a say in our own futures; we wouldn’t have access to birth control, the right to choose or able to have a legal abortion carried out in a safe environment. Every day I’m grateful for those that paved the way and made my existence what is is, because without them our situation would be way worse than it is – but it could still be better. For those of you that don’t understand why women marched in their millions this past weekend, or wondered what difference it would really make, and for those of you that don’t deem yourself disadvantaged because of your gender: we are not equal, whichever way you look at it, and that is why a revolution is coming. I can understand those that want to shy away from hard hitting issues, who prefer to let others do the hard work in their name, but be respectful of the fact you would not be enjoying the opportunities you do if it were not for others.
WHAT CAN WE DO? HOW CAN WE MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
We all have a voice, no matter how big or how small, and now is the time to use it. If you have a platform, put it to work: share stories, start conversations and show people what needs to be changed. If you’re a blogger or an influencer, don’t be afraid of using your platform to talk about more than shoes or mascara – because if you’re interested in women’s rights then your readers will be too.
Join the Women’s Equality party, who are trying to make change in the UK by championing equality and women’s rights. They want to achieve equal pay, equal parenting, equal access to support and equal opportunities by getting their voices heard in parliament; joining the party costs as little as £4.00 a month and could make a huge difference.
Follow Women’s March London and be part of their ’10 Changes In 100 Days’ campaign. In the coming weeks they’ll be providing ways in which each one of us can keep the momentum moving following the marches, as well as providing a UK focal point for those of us that feel like they want to do something but they’re not sure what. The first of which is…
Email our Prime Minister, Theresa May, and ask her to
champion women’s equality whenever there’s an opportunity – starting
with her meeting with President Trump this coming Friday. Ask her to
affirm our country’s belief that women’s rights are human rights, and to
not waiver in the upholding of our ideals in favour of a trade deal.
Write her a letter, send her an email or pop her a postcard with your
thoughts to 10 Downing Street, SW1A 2AA or via email.number10.gov.uk.
And above all, stay informed. Read the newspapers, watch the documentaries, discuss what’s going on with your colleagues. Within days of Trump taking office he’s reversed a bill that provided healthcare and support to women in developing and war torn countries, because the same institutions that provide support may also facilitate an abortion. That’s not ok and it’s not the solution. Stopping access to healthcare and safe treatment only causes women to be forced into dangerous situations; they’re not able to stand up for themselves, so its our responsibility to champion their causes for them.
Right now my feeds are jampacked with inspirational content and discussion around these issues, and I really hope that doesn’t waiver. Although I’m realistic and know that a few marches won’t change the world, it’s important that we still stand up and try to make a difference in the years to come. Are you with me?