Today is International Women’s day and as UN Women UK put it this morning: “It’s a protest not a party.” It’s a time to celebrate and reflect on the progress made on women’s rights and a day to call for an end to gender inequality.
Women’s rights have come a long in many respects in laws, BUT we are no where near equals. When we can walk down the street by ourselves at night and not feel threatened, when we can all access an education, not be catcalled in the street, have the same behaviours as men without criticism (read more about that here), remove gender from stereotypes, end period poverty, FGM, all forms of sexual violence, then we’ll have a big ass party.
We have to keep the momentum, direction and conversation going in order to continue to make change and narrow the gap between how we treat those who identify as women and those who identify as men in every aspect of life, every law, every public and private space and every behaviour.
I fell down a rabbit hole last week when I found out that nine million girls will never set foot in a classroom in their life. Nine million. I still can’t quite wrap my head around that. I just thought, how did I not know that?
I began to wonder what else I didn’t know about women’s rights, despite doing extensive reading as an adult to try and educate myself on all the gaps missed out in my education. I don’t feel like I need to say much else as the shocking statistics speak for themselves.
Statistics I found included:
- 62% of women who died in the last decade were killed in their home by a partner or ex and a third of these women reported it to the police beforehand.
- It works out that roughly one woman has died every three days from sexual violence in the last decade.
- 132 million girls are out of education in the world. 9 million of those girls will never set foot into a classroom, compared to 3 million boys.
- Less than 20% of the world’s land owners are women
- White Women make $0.81 to every man’s $1 whilst black women only make $0.75 to a man’s $1
- The inability to access safe and legal abortion care impacts 700 million women of reproductive age
- According to the World Health Organization, 23,000 women die of unsafe abortion each year and tens of thousands more experience significant health complications.
- 90 million (5%) women of reproductive age live in the 24 countries that prohibit abortion altogether
- 360 million (22%) women of reproductive age live in the 42 countries that only allow abortion to save the life of the woman.
- Women make up more than 2/3 of the worlds illiterate people
- Gender inequality is a major cause and effect of hunger and poverty: it is estimated that 60% of chronically hungry people are women and girls.
- 1 in 3 women will experience domestic abuse
- It is estimated that more than 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation
- There are an estimated 3 million girls at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation every year
- Every year, 12 million girls marry before the age of 18. Child marriage happens across countries, cultures and regions.
- The 5th biggest killer of women worldwide is no access to menstrual hygiene
What can we do?
As with all changes to fundamental human rights it’s important to educate yourself (seek out the information that may have been withheld from you), share resources, sign petitions, speak out, raise awareness, make donations if you can, support charities and encourage change in your personal, professional and wider community.
It feels impossible and after I did my research I felt an overwhelming sense of dread and helplessness. But the important thing with any new information is to take it on board and act on it.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
- We should all be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (read more about this book here)
- The War on Women by Sue Lloyd-Roberts
- Women’s Hour podcast
- iWeigh podcast
- This thread from Sophie Butler (and all content from Soph tbh as she’s a gem)
- Invisible Women by Caroline Criado-Perez
- I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
- Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism by Bell Hooks
- The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates
- The Madwoman in the Attic by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar
- I Know why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
- Suffragette by Emmeline Pankhurst
- Becoming by Michelle Obama
- The Guilty Feminist by Deborah Francis-White or the podcast
- A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
- Slay in your Lane: The Black Girl Bible by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinene
Initiatives and charities you can support:
- Malala Fund
- UN Women
- Justice and Care
- Centre for Women’s Justice
- Women’s Aid
- Action Aid
- Center for Reproductive Rights
Women’s rights have and always will be human rights. If you have any resources, please do share below!