Sunday 8th March is International Women’s Day, which represents the opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women whilst still calling for greater equality.
It is a day that has been recognised since 1911. This year the theme is Make it Happen, encouraging effective action for advancing, and recognising women.
In my Sixth Form assembly yesterday (Monday 2nd March), I talked about International Women’s Day and the theme Make it Happen. I encouraged the girls to embrace the term feminism, and understand it for what it really means, the ideology that all genders should be treated equally politically, economically, socially and culturally. Feminism is not about man hating. It is impossible to be a feminist if one hates men, as feminism also includes working towards men’s liberation from traditional gender stereotyping, and other social issues that surround men and transgender people.
My advice to the girls was to eliminate this misunderstanding, by taking on the true meaning and owning it. Own the term “feminism” until a person can use it without receiving mockery, threats or looks of contempt. Own the term “feminism” until everyone knows that it is synonymous with the term “equality.”
The new millennium has witnessed a significant attitudinal shift in both women’s and society’s thoughts about equality and emancipation. I know that many of our Sixth Formers think that ‘all the battles have been won for women’ but for me there is still work to be done and they are the next generation of women who can go out and make a difference. They can take on the mantle to ensure greater equality in legislative rights, they can be the next generation in the boardroom, and help increase the critical mass of positive role models in every aspect of life.
Having met some of our alumnae last week who are making their voices heard in journalism, breaking ground in astronomy and medical research, it makes me feel excited that our next generation of young women can Make it Happen.
I know they will be bold enough and will want to continue to break down barriers, to ensure that they have real choices, and not be prejudiced against because of their sex.
To join the conversation on Twitter use #MakeItHappen. Visit www.internationalwomensday.com for further information.