'There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women.' -Kofi Annan
If I were to be categorised as any thing, I would be a liberal. I believe in equality, freedom of speech, natural rights, human rights, and I believe that nobody has the right to take away another's natural rights, no matter what gender, race, religion or social class that person is. Respect should be judged on a person's character and their actions, not their gender. I am a feminist, because I believe that even in today's society where I live in a First World Western country, women can still be subjugated to discrimination that previous decades faced. Especially when it comes to sexuality. Music videos, blurred lines, full female nudity on so many television programmes, and the claimed push for gender equality which provides a mask over the fact that there are social customs that are so ingrained in human behaviour through tradition, education and a lack of respect.
When I celebrate International Women's Day I have been asked why there isn't an International Men's Day. The people that ask this are men, well boys actually, the ones that make kitchen and sandwich jokes, of which neither are funny. And to that I ask if any of those men have ever felt afraid walking past a female stranger on an empty street, even in broad daylight, for fear of sexual harassment. I ask if they have ever been degraded on more than one occasion by catcalls from cars when walking down a street, who yell 'slut' and 'whore', even though you are dressed modestly in jeans and a jumper. The blatant ogling at breasts, bums, and the rape and abuse argument that 'she must have been asking for it'.
I know that some of these acts of degradation and slight that I have experienced are in no means remotely comparable to what many women suffer all around the world in places that seem so foreign to me, where they are not given a voice, and have very different rights. All I know is that if we cannot address the gender inequality in our own countries, let alone our own friendship groups, how is society meant to understand and make a difference in places where women do not have the liberations that we have.
Knowledge is power. The human brain is the most dangerous weapon in the world. But it is also the most effective at promoting change. Happy International Women's Day! xx