Since it is International Women’s Day and I am a woman myself, a blog just had to be written.
Today, everything is dedicated to women, but why?
It might feel like we, as women have gotten far already to become equal to men, which is true, but we still have a long way to go.
International Women’s Day already exists since 1909 and it’s a day to celebrate women’s achievements while calling for gender equality, as well as bringing out women’s struggles and discussing them.
The United Nations decided in 1996 to link a specific theme to ever IWD, this year it’s “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”. A very nice initiative I think to put something else in the picture too.
You might think that we don’t need this day anymore, because we have already got so far. Well you are actually wrong. There is still a gender pay gap across the whole world and women are still not equally presented in business or politics. Think about all the CEO’s of companies and presidents: most of them are male.
Education, health and violence towards women are also still a big issue in a lot of countries.
As this is a personal blog, I’d like to share my experiences with you when it comes to equality. Although I know that gender equality in Belgium is way better than a lot of other countries, there are still things that are just not done. I have experienced them personally and many -actually most- of my female friends have experienced them as well -and worse.
I have been scared when I walked home, I have been followed, I have had my bum slapped many times as if it’s an OK thing to do, I have been called inferior to men, I have been called many names that I’m not going to say out loud, by men I didn’t even know. Maybe I will be called whiny and a feminist for saying the latter, but so be it.
But here is the thing, although I got raised equally, I got a really good education, I have everything I want and can do everything I want, some things are considered ‘normal’ and ‘not worth mentioning’, while they actually are not. And why? Because we are used to it, not only men, but women too.
For example, take the fact that if you say something about gender equality, many people will simply laugh it off and make jokes about it. Or ask you if you're 'one of those feminists'. Is it really something to have a laugh about then? Is being a feminist wrong?
Whenever I say that I think I’m beautiful, I feel weird because I’m not supposed to say that since I don’t look like a standard model. Whenever I speak up for myself, I feel weird because people might think I’m just bad-tempered. Whenever I wish to take leadership, I feel awkward when men are in the same team. Whenever I talk about ‘manly’ things, I feel weird because people would joke about it, as ' it’s not done'. Whenever I say I don’t really like to wear heels and dresses, I’m not a ‘real’ girl. Whenever I talk about all these kind of things, I feel moany because a lot of people experience a lot worse. And yes, that is absolutely true and I feel very lucky, but that doesn’t mean that the fight for equal rights should stop. Not only for women, but also for men.
Every person should be able to stand up for him- or herself, no matter the gender. Everyone has a voice, so use it!