LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE GIRLS…
I was privileged to have attended the #marchforwomen that took place last Sunday in Central London. Wow what an atmosphere. Brilliantly compered by Sue Perkins and attended by women (as well as a significant number of men) of all ages, shapes, sizes, colours, nationalities and creeds. It was a truly peaceful, thought provoking, inspiring and just insanely powerful day of almost tangible oneness.
Well…. my instinctive reaction was to huff and puff, feel extremely irritated and yell at the person in question (but seeing as I had put the phone down on them that would have been hard). Not long after though when I had recovered my rationale the desire to be dispassionate and objective returned, I started thinking about this person’s point of view. On some level, I get where they are coming from. I get that it’s obvious to see that most women in the UK are way ahead of the ‘equality’ game compared to their sisters in other less democratic or war torn countries and continents. I get that on the whole we British girls have high class problems compared to women who are for example, denied a basic right to education or subjected to state-sanctioned sexual violence. I get that some people in the UK are confused by the #metoo and #timesup movements as it feels to them like the pendulum of victimisation is swinging too far in the opposite direction and has started to smack of persecution and intolerance being perpetrated on just A N Other sector of society – in this case some rather bewildered men.
But “hold on” I say to them – however good we women of the UK have it now (and let’s face it – we women do have it a lot better than it was 100 years ago or even 40 years ago for that matter) there will always be room for improvement. British women have had the vote since 1918. That’s 100 years. A very short time in the grand scheme of history. Plus it’s actually a lot longer than women in some other European countries – Spain for example only gave women the vote in 1933. And we have to remember that although we are individuals and our lives and times matter humungously to us, we are but twinkles in the eyes of time. The universe just has to blink and we will be gone. It will be the turn of our children and our children’s children to be here instead (well that’s assuming war mongering, sociopathic, patriarchal maniacs don’t blast us all into a nuclear apocalypse any generation soon!).
So my point?
My point is: I recognise that British women have made enormous gains in terms of their rights and perceived equality in the last century but when I reflect carefully about why I joined the #marchforwomen I have to say it was not so much for me and but for my daughter and her contemporaries and most importantly for my international sisters. This is because I know there is still a tidal wave of work to be done at home and abroad. I was ‘marching’ to raise awareness of global women’s rights not just mine. With the advent of the digital age, social media and budget airlines never before have we we lived in such a global village. We cannot disconnect ourselves from the fact that despite legacy boundaries of nationhood and culture we are all, each one of us, just one of many. I recognise that as a British female, I am one of the lucky ‘ones of many’, but that makes me feel even more deeply connected and accountable to my international sisters – those who weren’t dealt such a lucky hand of cards in the geographical lottery of birth.
So when I marched at the weekend it was not so much for me and my British contemporaries but for the Global Sisterhood. For those women and girls sharing my epoch in the lifecycle of humanity, sisters who currently don’t have the luxury of a peaceful, democratic, welfare state to support them in delivering positive change for themselves, their peers and their daughters.
On that note, I would like to wish you a productive and positive International Woman’s Day 2018 as we profoundly thank and celebrate the centenary of our yesteryear suffragette sisters’ achievements. May I also take this opportunity to shout out (very loudly!) to our present day international Suffragette Sisters. Those women who do not have the luxury of pontification (as I sip my cappuccinos and worry if and where I should get my nails done this weekend…). Those women who are having a particularly tough time today – right now – this minute – whilst we lucky Brits enjoy the freedom of choice. Choice as to whether we run businesses, break glass ceilings or focus on being stay at home mums.
Let’s hear it for the girls who are a still struggling under the shackles of patriarchy, sexual violence and the endless, pointless grief of war.
Let’s hear it for the girls, our sisters…
Our Sisters in war torn Afghanistan
Many Afghan women have known nothing other than war and instability in their lifetimes. And although some regions in Afghanistan are making valiant strides in the right direction still the unrest rages on – as conservative Afghan lawmakers are doing their best to re-introduce laws that would, amongst other things, legalise marital rape, prohibit women from leaving the home without permission, deny them the right of inheritance and force a woman to “preen for her husband as and when he desires”.
Our Besieged Syrian Sisters
Alongside trying to feed and find basic provisions such as nappies for their children for the last five years Syrian women have bravely been protesters, journalists, opposition politicians, cooks for the Free Syrian Army fighters, field nurses, fighters and more. This youtube interview with Dr Amani Balfour was recorded last week in eastern Ghouta. It reminds us that women in this currently miserable place of utter destruction are trying to go about their every day business under the most incredibly stressful and depressing circumstances.
Our Rohinga Sisters in Myanmar
Almost 700,000 people have fled extreme violence in Myanmar since August last year, seeking safety in Bangladesh. Globally, 65.6 million people are currently forcibly displaced. More people are displaced than ever before in history. And around half of those displaced are women and girls. As well as suffering as refugees, many have been subjected to sexual violence and torture and/or have seen their loves ones killed.
Mexican Sisters subjected to Femicide
The drugs war raging in Mexico right now has seen that between 2007 and 2017 almost 30,000 women have been murdered – a 49% increase on the previous decade (according to the National Statistics Institute INEGI). Mexico’s security forces are routinely accused of committing the very crimes they were supposed to prevent. Scores of innocent women have been illegally arrested and tortured in order to elicit confessions and boost prosecution rates.
One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying.
– Joan of Arc