March is all about women. International Women’s Day (IWD) was celebrated the world over on March 8th under the banner theme ‘Make It Happen’, and they most certainly did.
IWD has, perhaps surprisingly to many of us, been celebrated for well over 100 years. It was established by Socialist International (then, the Socialist Party of America) in 1910 to recognise the contribution of women to society in general disregarding barriers such as nationality, ethnicity, linguistics and cultural, political and economic differences. Its fundamental purpose is to look back on past struggles as well as accomplishments but equally as important is to look forward to the phenomenal untapped potential and opportunities that are waiting for future generations of women the world over.
Here in the UK, IWD was celebrated, in amongst many other ways, at the Women of the World (WOW) festival at the South Bank Centre in London with a week of incredible workshops, talks, seminars and performances celebrating women and girls from all over the world. Topics included gender roles and identity, violence, empowerment, women in business, the perceived glass ceiling and politics and human rights. In addition, the festival addressed (including a Q&A with Annie Lennox) the many and varied humanitarian issues facing women around the world today including the plight of women and girls living in conflict zones, asylum and FGM, an horrific and brutal ‘procedure’ practiced in 28 countries and highlighted by amazing charities including28toomany.org.
In fact, whilst researching this blog article, the writer came across a beautifully written blog by a GCSE student about the misrepresentation of women in society, You can read it in full here but it’s worth pulling out a few quotes that perfectly highlight the issues women face:
‘Considering that only 12% of country’s leaders are women but approximately half of the world population is female, this is completely unrepresentative of humanity’s needs, unjustifiable and simply unfair.’
‘[the speaker] suggested that it is not that men do not want to diminish the concerns [equal pay, childcare provision, adult social care and ending violence against women] – nor is it that they do not care – but that they have an entirely different frame of mind to women, and therefore do not consider them in the same manner that women do. The subject of women being inclusive was also addressed, as well as the importance that the needs of the whole of society are considered; to do this one must actually speak to the women.’
Makes perfect sense when you think about it. Sadly, not enough do but we are safe in the knowledge that there are people out there who have our backs!
Also, Harry Potter actress and newly-appointed UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson who took part in a Q&A about gender equality and theHeForShe charity which you can view here. Women make up as near as makes no difference half of the world’s population and it’s great to see that the voices are loud and clear.
Since we’re on the subject of women, don’t forget this Sunday is Mother’s Day! Held on the fourth Sunday in Lent, its original name, Mothering Sunday was not a reference to mums per se, rather a reference to remind people to return to the warm embrace of Mother Church but since Clinton Cards got involved, it has morphed into a celebration of the woman who brought you into the world – your mum!
Lent in the Christian calendar is a period of 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday where Christians essentially replicate the sacrifices made by Jesus as he withdrew into the desert before he was crucified. Lent is commemorated by metaphorically fasting for the period. Naturally one cannot fast for 40 days; rather you sacrifice a particular vice such as wine, chocolate or smoking and it is a test of self-discipline and moderation. In Latin it’s known as ‘quadragesima’, or ‘fortieth’.
If you’re in London for Mother’s Day, or indeed for any other reason, it’s not too late to book an apartment this weekend or indeed for any other weekend!
The weather seems to be getting warmer and there’s no better experience than spring in London. We’re looking forward to seeing you!