What we had to celebrate on International Women’s Day 2020

By Georgia Cadoret |

It’s Women’s History Month and last Sunday 8th March celebrated International Women’s Day, where people recognised how far women have come to create a gender-equal world. The last year has marked significant milestones in the progression of feminism and efforts to close the gender equality gap, so it fits that this year’s campaign theme was #EachforEqual. 

Perhaps the most significant turn for the UK this year has been the Sanitary Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) bill that was passed in February. The bill seeks to alleviate period poverty for women in Scotland by providing free sanitary pads and tampons in public places, community centres, youth clubs and pharmacies. Free sanitary products have been available in all schools, colleges and universities across Scotland since 2018. More recently, the British chancellor has confirmed that VAT will be removed on all sanitary products in Britain commencing 2021, after a 20-year campaign against the EU rules that period products are inessential, luxury items. 

“…The change in attitude… Is a promising and momentous step in the right direction…”

With the new VAT scrap, a woman will allegedly save £40 in her lifetime on sanitary products. But it isn’t the money we’re excited about, it’s the change in attitude. This is a promising and momentous step in the right direction, where governments worldwide will treat periods, which over 800 million people experience daily, as the natural bodily function that they are.

On the 10th December 2019, Finnish politician Sanna Marin became the youngest ever female Prime Minister at age 34. She is Finland’s third female prime minister and sets a precedent worldwide for young and aspiring female leaders. Marin’s election goes to show that people are slowly but surely beginning to gain trust and have confidence in women in power. Given that currently only 34% of British parliament are women, here’s to more news like this in 2020! 

“Change is coming whether you like it or not!”

Greta Thunberg

We celebrate women like Greta Thunberg, the teenage girl who inspired a worldwide climate change movement in 2019. She spoke at the UN Climate Conferences in New York and Milan, was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, and has become one of the most powerful voices for change of her generation. 

On a note closer to home, perhaps the most important message for this International Women’s Day is that women should continue to support other women. For too long the male-dominant world has prompted us to look upon other women with judgement and jealousy, and we are finally rising up to create our own personal and organic opinions of each other. We are coming together in business collectives, classes, organisations, charities and groups. We are giving each other the time to understand one another; the support and friendship that we have always deserved. 

The zeitgeist around female relationships and our relationships with ourselves is changing as we begin to harmonise. We are writing about female empowerment, chatting about it on podcasts, declaring it boldly in acceptance speeches, weaving the conversation into witty scripts (if you haven’t watched Fleabag, do – it’s important). On a smaller scale, we are championing each other with messages of love and encouragement and celebrating our bodies with fearless Instagram posts. 

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50 years ago, women in Britain won the right to equal pay. That monumental moment began with one courageous and inspiring group of women in a factory in Dagenham, England. In 1968, facing a pay settlement that declared them less skilled than men, the sewing machinists of the Ford Motor Company walked out on strike. In the face of great pressure, they stood firm, and two years later the UK Parliament was forced to pass the Equal Pay Act, protecting and supporting working women ever since. To mark International Women’s Day, The Duchess of Sussex visited Dagenham to meet with Geraldine Dear, one of the strikers, and spend time with students at the Robert Clack Upper School to meet the town’s next generation of female role models, and talk to young women and men about the women who inspire them. • “Being in Dagenham is incredibly profound. Because as you can see with Geraldine and the other women who had the strength to really stand up for something that they knew needed to be done. This is the best example of no matter how small you might feel, how low you may feel on the ladder or the totem pole, no matter what colour you are, no matter what gender you are, you have a voice, and you certainly have the right to speak up for what is right.” – The Duchess of Sussex A lifetime advocate and campaigner for gender equity, The Duchess joined a special assembly to celebrate this remarkable local story, as well as recognise the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of all women around the world. #InternationalWomensDay #IWD2020 #EachForEqual Photo © The Duke and Duchess of Sussex / Chris Allerton

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My 82-year-old Grandpa (a man very much “of his time” when it comes to female roles) has bought a copy of The Telegraph every day for as long as I can remember. Only since I told him that I began writing for publications has he started reading the lifestyle section that is written largely by women and come to realise ‘there’s some very good stuff in there actually’. As annoying as this may sound, nothing makes me happier than when I can positively shift someone’s perception of women. We are finally seeing women for what they are: bold, brave, and quite literally unstoppable – the human race would struggle if we weren’t. 

Of course, we still have a long way to go, with ineffable amounts of gender inequality in the world, where women are still murdered, convicted and shunned for their sex. But looking back at the last century of Western society, where women were pigeon-holed, shamed for their bodies, told they were incapable, allowed to be raped by their superiors, fathers, even their own husbands, where they were rejected from working roles and constantly silenced, it is hard to believe where we stand today. Promoting the society and equal justice system that not only now acknowledge the assault and misconducts of an empowered white male such as Hollywood filmmaker Harvey Weinstein, but ensures consequences for those who would disgrace us; spending his next 23 years in prison, this is a major win for the #MeToo movement.

Whilst these victories do not dissolve issues altogether, it is important to remember that we have come so far: we are doing good girls!