INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY – INSPIRING CHANGE

Sophia Miller

International Women’s Day (IWD) is meant to be a worldwide day for solidarity, action and inspiration for women. Does it really give women a voice internationally?

Historically IWD was a platform used by women to make demands such as the vote and equal pay. For at least the last century, women in Western societies have had greater opportunities and rights to represent themselves politically, socially and religiously therefore we shout the loudest, but are Western women directing the branding and theme of the day according to their own agenda?

The dominant voice of women from western societies is clear from the International Women’s Day 2014 website which shows a graph of the events taking place globally for the day.

However, I do not believe women from western societies claim to have the resounding voice on women’s struggles globally. There are women who have achieved international standing such as Cheryl Sandberg, Facebooks COO and Malala Yousafzai both of whom have run very different campaigns for very different societies and cultures whilst achieving international importance and value. Although both of these women have Western backing and support their key messages just like that of IWD is to inspire individuals to make a difference.

IWD aims to inspire people to act to make a difference by thinking globally and acting locally. A recent successful campaign which optimises this message was the campaign to protect girls living in the UK from risk of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). A 17 year old schoolgirl, Fahma Mohamed, from Bristol launched a campaign calling on Michael Gove to urge schools in the UK to protect young girls against FGM. She inspired thousands to supporters using social media and achieving over 235,000 signatures. She successfully convinced Education Secretary, Michael Gove to take action and in a very short space of time achieved support from world leaders, in the fight against FGM. The campaign against FGM is a global one but she successfully acted on a local level, campaigning for the rights of girls living in the UK.

IWD, I believe is all about inspiring change for women globally and encouraging advocacy for women’s advancement internationally. This year I think we can take inspiration from Fahma Mohamed’s campaign, Fahma like many of us are immensely disturbed by the concept of FGM and she took effective and immediate action to protect young girls living in the UK.

I do hope for a day in which men and women have equal rights in every aspect of society internationally, I think what IWD highlights is that it should be a day to inspire women on a whole range of issues and of course be a celebration of what women have achieved.

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