As it is International Women’s Day, it is important to reflect on the power of women’s voices and their opinions being heard within the decision making of communities and countries.
In the United Kingdom we are blessed that our voices are being heard more and more, and as a result women are decision makers and influencing change. Of course there is more that can be done to improve this, but we are on the right track.
This is not the case in many countries and cultures in the world. There are countries where women don’t even have the vote and they have no voice in court. They are treated differently to men, receiving more serious sentences and punishments for the same crimes. Because they are women.
But even within my lifetime, in the United Kingdom there have been changes. When I was very young, there were not female news presenters; women were not curates or vicars in the C of E church, and there were very few female politicians. We rarely heard female voices in decision making roles; on the media and in life outside the home. Rather like Victorian children, women were to be ‘seen but not heard’.
During the 1970s there started to be female newsreaders – but the hooha surrounding that was amazing: in fact Angela Rippon famously high stepped in a Morecombe and Wise show. Interesting: was this to make her look less serious? And Margaret Thatcher appeared on the scene; was our first female Prime Minister, and the population STARTED to get used to women’s voices being heard outside the home.
I am first to admit that there is still a long way to go with women being taken as seriously as men in the workplace and in government – although of course we have another female Prime Minister now.
But on this day celebrating women, let’s spend a moment reflecting on how far we have come in the last 100 years and how in our small country this has resulted in genuine change for women’s lives.
Let’s celebrate the women who were brave enough to speak up at a time when within our culture, it was unacceptable to do so; women who were gamechangers. THEN let’s think to how we can support women and girls in other countries who do not have the freedom and advantages we have. And finally, let’s focus on the next 100 years and what needs doing!