late to the party…

because that’s how I roll, but Happy International Women’s day!

One of the more interesting reactions to it that I saw this year was a few people asking, semi seriously – “but why isn’t there an International Men’s Day?”  Leaving aside the fact that there is (November 19th, if you wanted to know), it’s true that International Women’s Day tends to get a lot more publicity and resources.  Given that we’re meant to be fighting inequality, surely, the argument goes, this is also sexism?

Except.

This year, we’ve had two miscarriages in the space of 9 months.  Utterly heart breaking.  At one point, we were facing the possibility that this pregnancy could have been ectopic – a fairly frightening proposition for all of us. But as we’ve done this far too often, I’ve had the chance to see how it works here.  The endless compassion of the doctors and nurses.  The tests, the scans, the incredibly thorough care I’ve received to make sure I’m in the best physical and mental health possible.

And an accident of birth could have made it so different. Had I lived in Hastings, Sierra Leone instead of Hastings, UK, the likelihood of infection, or, had the pregnancy been ectopic, death, would have been so much higher.  The social isolation that would have happened because of being unable to bear these children to term would have been emotionally crippling.  And, had this not ended in miscarriage, the likelihood of death during or shortly after would have been massively increased.

And it’s easy to suggest that these problems are only in the developing world.  But we live in a world where 20 % of 7-10 year olds have tried dieting.  Where young men and young women can see violence in a relationship as acceptable in certain circumstances.  Where our children are given career advice based not on their skills but on their gender.  Where the gender based pay gap is widening.  Where movies and books depicting abusive and violent relationships become best sellers, and we’re used to the culture that we don’t think to question it.  Equality?

And that’s why we need an International Women’s Day.  Not to ignore the men, or to suggest that their own problems are irrelevant.  But to highlight the unique issues faced by women, so that one day, we don’t need to have a Woman’s Day or a Men’s Day, because the inequalities simply don’t exist.  The problem comes though, if we limit it to one day.  We need to be fighting all year, both men and women, shouting out and yelling “not in my name”.  Because the big days are great, but it’s when we work day in, day out, challenging attitudes that suggest that sexism in any form is ok, that we’ll really make a difference.

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