Today is International Women’s Day. This is a great day to recognise the female of the species, in all her glory and as a man, try to see things from her point of view.
I am lucky. I married a feminist who is a sharp reminder daily of why women should be treated equally in society. For us, there is no gender bias in this house, other than for comedic effect and that usually gets me a slap from Lady M, as well as an eye roll from The Teen daughter. She’s my partner, my love and most importantly my best friend.
It’s not that long ago in relative terms that women weren’t allowed to vote, weren’t expected to get anything more than a basic education, certainly not to university and life expectation was to marry a decent man, have kids, keep house so that he could go off and do the important stuff. That led to all sorts of domestic abuse being covered up and going unchecked as it was socially unacceptable for a woman to be alone with children. A version of domestic handcuffs, right there.
Enter the Suffragettes who were seen as rebels, political insurgents who were rocking the boat and now it was alright for rent a mob to steam into them violently. Those women blazed the trail for every female after them and fought against a rigged system to eventually get the vote. Thanks to them, all women over 18 have the right to vote in the UK and that is a good place to be.
Further education was a different matter. Up to the 1960s, women at University were an uncommon sight, with most places for men. There were a few women pioneers in this regard and they managed to open the door, break down the barriers and challenge attitudes in the most established institutions.
During both world wars, women filled jobs traditionally done by men, which was most of them and fared just as well. You’d think this was a wake up call for society, but no. When the men returned, everyone settled back into the old way of life.
In today’s world, women have far more opportunity than I believe they have ever had and that truly is progress but is there a way to go? There are still ceilings involved in the workplace for women and if you look at how we react when there is a female Prime Minister, it should give us a clue. The top jobs in industry, mostly men. The top jobs in academe, mostly men. Salaries are still inequitable for the same role between the sexes and that surely has to be wrong purely on the basis of gender.
We are all important in society, despite race, sexuality, religion, gender. If we all treated each other with equal respect as a person, an individual, there wouldn’t be a need for special day for groups.
Sadly, we’re not there yet and I hope that someday we will see even greater improvement if not equality, and that comes from all sides.
Here’s to women! Life wouldn’t be the same without you.