International Women's Day- blog written by our museum volunteer Jeff
I was asked to write something about why I, as a man, was supporting International Women’s Day. I found this quite hard to put into words at first, so I had a look at the United Nations web site for some inspiration.
The hash tag being used for International Women’s Day is #PledgeForParity. Parity is defined in the dictionary as “equality, as in amount, status, or character.” The motto the United Nations is also using for IWD is “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”
Looking at both of these objectives, I was gripped by a sense of guilt and sadness. Sadness, that 16 years into the 21st
Century, we should still be contemplating it taking a further 14 years before 50% of the population of the planet has the same rights that the other 50% have always enjoyed; and guilt, that I am one of that privileged half of the planet, which, by design or omission has been instrumental in denying women those rights for so long.
But, even more than that, as a middle-aged, middle-class, white man, I realise that I am more privileged and hold more power than most women in the world (and millions of other men); not just those from ‘developing nations’, but also those in the UK and most of the developed world. And for women to become truly equal, not just in an individual sense but globally,
culturally and politically, men like me have to be willing not only to support them in their struggle by using our power, position and privilege but to also be prepared to give some of that power up.
It’s sometimes hard to look back on what shapes our view of the world; what formative experiences or key people make us who we are and what influences throughout our lives shape our political, social and cultural attitudes. But I can’t remember a time when I have ever considered women to be inferior in any sense to men. And, as I grew and matured and my awareness of how
unequal, unfair and unjust the world really is became more acute, I began to see women’s struggle for equality as a human rights issue, every bit as much as the fight against repressive regimes, torture, slavery, racism, poverty and all the other major political issues of our time.
But more than this, I realised that true equality for women – not just lip service from the ‘great and the good’ – is a pre-requisite for
tackling so many of those other issues and ills. It’s a sad fact that men create most of the world’s conflicts, crime, poverty and injustice but women and children are disproportionately affected by them. And, in many countries of the world, it is women who are at the forefront of finding solutions and mitigating the worst excesses of men’s arrogance and inhumanity.
So, in supporting ‘Planet 50/50’, I am both acknowledging my responsibility as a man and, ultimately, supporting the future of the planet, in all its fabulous wonder and diversity, and the future of all those who live on it.