I WOKE up yesterday like many other women across the globe probably did; with a sense of hope and solidarity with women worldwide.
It was International Women’s Day and, while I imagine it passed a lot of people by without a second thought, for me it was the first one in a while that felt optimistic, with change finally cresting on the horizon.
The march of progress has been coming for a long time, but in the past few months, it has felt like an unstoppable juggernaut that can only be denied at your peril.
But the warm and fuzzy feeling of progress was quickly wiped away when the first news story that appeared on my feed was that of an Iranian woman who has been jailed for two years just for removing her headscarf in public. And the harsh reality of how far we still have to go slapped me in the face.
To the many who have invested in and followed the #Metoo movement, it can feel that we are on the verge of something great. But, while the progress made cannot be denied, the reality of that change is not necessarily shared equally. More often than not, it is only witnessed in the lives of affluent women, usually white, in places like Hollywood.
For anyone who was starting to get complacent, the story of the nameless woman in Tehran is a stark reminder of exactly why International Women’s Day is still just as vital today as it was on the first one over 100 years ago.
There will have been a million and one stories yesterday of women facing persecution, threat, and terror that will never make the headlines. They, like the woman in Iran, will remain nameless. They will get up tomorrow and continue their fight as best they can, knowing that, in all likelihood, they will lose.
The story of being a woman (any woman) in the world is one that still needs to be told, shouted, celebrated and then actioned on. And that’s what International Women’s Day tries to do.
Many people over the years have asked me why I am such a passionate feminist when I personally have little to complain about. It’s true that I am lucky in the lot I have been handed in life and, believe me, it has not escaped my attention that I fall in to the previously described category of #MeToo effect beneficiaries – I am white and I am British, with that comes a certain level of privilege not afforded to others.
While I have, of course, been forced to handle casual sexism and assault – all part of the day job of being female – I have not had to face drastic adversity in the workplace, or in education, or in access to healthcare as a result of my gender.
But while there continues to be literally billions of women and girls that do have to face this on a daily basis; us women will continue to shout about it from the hilltops, we will broadcast it online, we will march in the streets and shout it in your face if we must. But most importantly, we will create change. And movements like international women’s day, while they don’t solve all the problems, they give a springboard for that change that is still so badly needed.
** This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of Asian Correspondent