International Women’s day is a day to reflect on the progress we have made for an equal world, to hope for the future, to have courage for change, and to celebrate those who have had all kinds of impact on their countries, communities and throughout history.
After marching at the #march4women hosted by Care International in London last Sunday, I felt incredibly empowered and ready to take on the world. The inspiration was in the atmosphere and the hope and ambition of every single person in the crowd was amplified, including my own. After dealing with what seemed to be a hopeless situation where the word ‘feminism’ is still misunderstood and gender is still so binary, I felt like people were finally opening their minds and climbing on board for the fight for equality.
But this was soon shot down. Thanks to me flushing my phone down a public toilet in Shoreditch (cry), I caught up on the events of the day on Facebook from my laptop and was stunned by the amount of backlash and negativity in the comments which included things like this….
Woman 1: So sick of these women’s marches – I’m a women and I find the whole gender equality, pro-abortion thing disgusting – get back in the kitchen and make your families Sunday lunch!!!
Man 1: All I see is hundreds of women that just need a good hard shag. After that they will be fine! Think of all of the men going hungry this lunch time. This is inexcusable
Man 2: What is it women feel the need to be equal to in the year 2017
Man 3: I respect my woman especially when she gets my dinner on the table at a decent hour
Man 4: Ffs hear we go again
And these were just five of many! By this point I was shouting “make your own damn dinner” at my laptop screen and had lost all hope….
Well my anger has since settled and I realised the importance of differentiating opinions, freedom of speech along with raising my voice to help people understand these issues better. And also how similar my questions were to these ridiculous comments. I found myself also questioning why women felt the need to be equal in 2017? Why again? Why on earth are we still trying to resolve these issues? I’m sick of the marches! ‘Hear we go again’ in 2017, still campaigning and hoping for global gender equality. Without a doubt, ‘inexcusable’….
Every day for me is a blessing, and for the majority of you reading this, you’ll know how extremely lucky we are in so many ways. Which is why empathy is so important and I believe plays a huge part in being a good person. (Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within the other being’s frame of reference, i.e., the capacity to place oneself in another’s position. Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another and feeling with the heart of another). And these comments are proof that many of us are simply lacking basic human empathy.
So how serious are the issues anyway? Listen ‘hear‘…
The UN report ‘The World’s Women 2010’ shows just some of the dire gender disparities in current situations:
- Out of 774 million illiterate adults worldwide, 2 out of 3 are women.
- 70% of the poorest people in the world are women.
- Women own 1% of the world’s land.
- 72 million primary age children are out of education. 54% of these are girls.
- 2 million women are victims of genital mutilation every year.
- Approximately 70 million women and children were subject to sex trafficking in Asia in the last ten years.
On top of these statistics, our current global refugee crisis means millions more women are without their rights and extremely vulnerable. Although many of you seem to think refugees are flooding in to the UK with hopes to take our jobs and housing, actually 86% of the 65 million refugees are displaced in developing countries like Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon and Ethiopia. Our effort in the U.K today is just one big joke.
These are normal people who never imagined that they would be in these circumstances. People who were in education, people with homes and 9-5 jobs. People like you, and people like my own family who fled from Uganda in 1972 leaving their businesses, cars, homes and belongings to come to the UK where they knew no-one, did not know the language and were given sanctuary in centers, all in a cold, snowy winter when they’d never seen snow before! It seems unimaginable, but I think about my own family, then I watch the news and actually it’s extremely real.
One of the reasons I struggle to sleep at night and one of the reasons I know I’ll spend my life in these areas of conflict, is simply because I cannot switch off. My mind is constantly thinking about the help we can give, the ways we can give that help, the places we can start, and the people we can start with. It’s normal for me. But for those who are struggling to understand the seriousness of feminism, gender equality and the refugee crisis, for those who maybe don’t feel the same way, ask yourselves for humankind, please find human empathy for the people who are suffering through no fault of their own, who flee their homes and everything they know in fear and terror, for women stuck in detention centers and are unsafe in refugee camps, for girls who will never see inside a classroom, for all refugees in these situations, and for all women around the world and for those women right next to us. Find your hearts for them.
We are failing humans on huge scales. We must do more.
“I raise up my voice – not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard” – Malala Yousafzai. It’s so important for people like you and me to use our platforms and dare to be bold. So how can you celebrate international women’s day, and what can you do today?
- Spread the word and use your voice through conversations and writing to your MP.
- Sign a petition or two, or three.
- Wear red to show support worldwide
- Follow events from the day all over social media and share, like and use the hashtag #beboldforchange which is this year’s campaign theme.
- Donate to the many women and refugee organisations.
And check out these events if you’re London based…
London – Wednesday 8th March, 18:00pm – BE Unplugged ‘Disrupting the Future: Passion, Purpose and Change
London – Saturday 11th March, 12:30pm – Million Women March and Rally
Start today and join the movement to promote basic human rights and values #beboldforchange
Thank you 🙂