What Does International Women’s Day Mean To You?

Yesterday, March 8th, marked International Women’s Day – a day dedicated to celebrating all women, everywhere. In this article, our contributors are reflecting on what International Women’s Day means to them…

Words by Eve Davies

This year’s International Women’s Day is all about #BreakTheBias. To me, International Women’s Day is about celebrating the everyday wins that I see regarding gender equality and female empowerment. The day brings a vibrant energy as women all over the world come together, united by the act of empowering their gender.

It’s about celebrating the fact that I have the same amount, if not more, female university lectures as I do male. The number of women in higher education outnumbers the number of men. As shown by a UCAS report, female 18-year-olds are now over a third more likely to start a degree course than their male counterparts. I see women my age graduating with engineering degrees or taking on apprenticeships in practical trades. Some days I’ll walk into the weights section of the gym and find it occupied by a larger portion of women than men, showing that women are no longer afraid to venture into previously male dominated social spaces. I see young women on social media building brands and pursuing their dreams of being independent entrepreneurs and CEOs.

However, International Women’s Day is also about recognising that there is still change to be made. While there might be more women working in education, research found that they are not being paid equally to their male colleagues. Shockingly, depending on age, male teachers can earn on average £2,253 more annually than female teachers.

Therefore, this day is about celebrating the fact that we have come a long way since the suffragettes, remembering there is still a long way to go, and being proud that we are getting there, one step at a time.

Words by Kristie O’Connor

International Women’s Day (IWD) in one word, is a celebration. A celebration of life led by women, their achievements within society, and the continuous fight for gender equality. The day itself for me, is a continuous reminder to remember, reflect and empower all women everywhere.

I remember the women decades before me, who had to fight for basic women’s rights. I remember the struggles they faced to demand an inch of the respect and treatment that their male-counterparts expected to receive from the world. I remember their determination to begin the fight to ensure that future generations of women didn’t face the same problematic treatment.

However, I also reflect. I reflect on the fact that although their fight wasn’t in vain, women are still living unequally to men in the 21st century. Globally, women are still treated as if they’re inferior to men in many aspects of their daily lives: through their workplace, religion or even relationships and so on. Having IWD is important. It highlights the ongoing gender equality struggle, raising awareness to the world. It also encourages the empowerment of women everywhere.

This means all women. No matter who you are, even if you’re a woman with some sense of privilege, it is your responsibility to empower and lift-up the women around you. Especially women of colour, trans-women, and those within the LGBTQ+ community. All women are strong, resilient, and capable, especially when in union. IWD is a reminder than this isn’t just a man’s world.

For me, the women around me are a reminder of this. They continue to show me that we’re powerful. Powerful in how we speak, what we do and who we are. I choose to celebrate them, and women everywhere, whilst continuing to remember, reflect, and empower.

Words by Rume Otuguor

From the women who form our intimate circles to those spearheading global campaigns, there is no shortage of inspiration to draw from when looking towards a more equitable future. International Women’s Day provides an opportunity, where we can take a step back and admire the contemporary women that are shaking things up today.

Early last month Minnie Mouse was unveiled to have undergone a drastic makeover. The much-adored mouse swapped her signature red polka dotted dress for a dashing dark blue pantsuit to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Disneyland Paris as well as International Women’s Day. The bespoke silhouette is designed by none other than British designer Stella McCartney. Stella is the foremost leader in sustainable haute-couture and is widely recognised for her rejection of fur and leather in her clothing, so much so that even Minnie’s new look is made of ‘responsibly sourced fabrics.’ With her dedication to ethics and sustainability in fashion, Stella remains a role model for other businesses to adopt eco-conscious practices, and continues to change the face of fashion.

Speaking on the suit she says “This new take on her signature polka dots makes Minnie Mouse a symbol of progress for a new generation.” Unquestionably, this is an iconic moment that modernises early 20th century notion of femininity, especially because no ounce of style was compromised. But alas, Minnie is make-believe and this is the real world. Out here, women having been wearing pantsuits for a long time yet we’re still not on equal footing with men. Minnie looks lovely, I’ll admit, but let’s not forget the work still left to do around dismantling the gendered stereotypes that disadvantage women.

Words by Sofia Mallia

International Women’s Day has always felt deeply personal to me, least of all because I was lucky enough to be born on it. Perhaps it is slightly narcissistic to say, but the day has felt special and unique to me since I learnt the meaning of it. People have often remarked, upon making the connection, how fitting it is that I, a proud feminist, should have a birthday that celebrates these values. The day is a reminder of who I was born to be, and a reminder that feminism is unique to us all.

For me, feminism is the ability to praise myself for being strong, skilled and savvy. For surrounding my world in pink whilst maintaining a knowledge of sports that makes my football-obsessed dad and boyfriend proud. For knowing that I am trying my best to exude kindness and compassion. It has shocked me that some of these traits that I thought made me strong were perceived by some as weakness, but this should not be discouraging.

IWD reminds me that I am strong because I am a woman, and stronger so because of these traits that have not always warranted a positive response. I am a deeply faithful and believing person, and I have truly maintained the belief that I was meant to be born on a day that celebrates what makes me a woman: my nature, my interests, my values. These are what makes me who I am, a strong woman.

This is what the day means for me, and it will be different for each of you reading. I hope the day will help you see, as it has me, that you should be celebrating yourself for every small trait that makes you yourself.

Image from Salt Lake Magazine