One day of equality is not enough

Comment by students at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds ANL-151025-114649001
Comment by students at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds ANL-151025-114649001
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This year’s International Women’s Day seemed more dramatic, more significant than ever before.

While the occasion is founded upon good intentions, the concept still confuses me. Obviously the achievements of women across the world deserve to be acknowledged, no one can plausibly refute that.

But how can the successes of half of the people that have ever lived be confined to just one day?

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem as if everybody does agree with the idea of complete gender equality, in the same way that you or I would. At the beginning of March, Polish MEP Janusz Korwin-Mikke decided he would add his input on a debate concerning the gender pay-gap which blights most of the developing world.

The founder of ‘KORWiN’, a marginally extremist far-right party, referred to women as “weaker, smaller and less intelligent” than their male counterparts. He also cited the lack of women within the top 100 global chess players as his only evidence for the somewhat inordinate claim.

But then again, I suppose the only way society can fairly judge the merit of a group of more than three billion individuals is through their ability to play board games. Perhaps we could get rid of democracy next, and just ask party leaders to play a heated round of Monopoly to decide elections instead.

Gladly, the rest of the world isn’t quite as regressive as Mr Korwin-Mikke. Nike announced plans for a sporting Hijab – an initiative aiming to encourage more Muslim women into sport, as well as enhancing the opportunities available to professionals on the competitive circuit.

Alongside the Hijab, Nike has released a new ‘plus-size’ sports clothing range and pledged its continued support for the This Girl Can campaign. The organisation appears to be doing all it can to send the message that sport should be for everyone, regardless of gender, size or race. It would appear that the world as a whole wants to work towards equality. There may be a few archaic exceptions, but for every bigot there are a dozen willing to fight for change.

Maybe International Women’s Day is a benefit to society, in the way that it can help us bring focus to important issues and notable successes. But I can’t help but feel that there are better ways for civilisation to show gratitude.

In the EU debate on the pay gap I mentioned earlier, one speaker evidenced a study suggesting that, at the current rate, gender-based wage disparity would take 70 years to completely disappear. If world leaders really want to show their appreciation of the work women do throughout society, I believe they should do more than just glorify a mere day of the year.

Instead, politicians should do all they can to remove the structural inequalities that too often place women below men in the social pecking order. If not, we may face yet another century of stereotypes and misogyny.