Friday 8th March marks International Women’s Day. It has been held on March 8th since the early 1900’s and began as a celebration of love, respect and appreciation of women. However, whilst it does still try to hold on to its original meaning, it has now become more of an opportunity to raise awareness of women’s issues worldwide, particularly equal rights and domestic violence.

Unfortunately, as sad as it is to think that, in this day and age, we still have to go about raising awareness of inequality, it is still going on where it shouldn’t be. Beginning with the workplace in particular; it has been worked out that April 9th is this year’s Equal Pay Day, which represents how much extra into 2013 women would have to work in order to equal what men earned in 2012. It is also estimated that a girl born this year will be drawing her pension before the House of Commons has equal representation and, whilst we might be blinkered to it here, equal rights to education still simply do not exist in some countries, to the point where 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai ended up being shot in Pakistan, simply for wanting girls to be allowed to go to school.

Although there is more awareness of domestic violence now than there has ever been, International Women’s Day is still a platform to push for further awareness and support for victims. Magazine coverage helps serve as a reminder as to what exactly constitutes domestic abuse, i.e. not just physical violence but emotional abuse, insults, control and cutting a woman off from friends or family. This can also encourage friends or family to notice changes in a woman who could be suffering from domestic abuse and provide them with help.

However, it is not all about the injustices against women, International Women’s Day is also there to celebrate women’s achievements in the world. Although she did have to suffer, we celebrate Malala Yousafzai for her persistence in still insisting on equal education rights for girls in Pakistan from her hospital bed in the UK. Although some of them are currently in prison, we celebrate Russian female punk band Pussy Riot for bringing their fight for women’s rights into the international spotlight. We also celebrate the huge gain in respect for women in sport thanks to the London 2012 Olympic Games. Last year’s Olympics was both the first time every single competing country sent at least one female athlete and the first time every single sport allowed women to participate, with Britain’s own Nicola Adams becoming the first woman in history to win an Olympic gold in boxing. The female medal winners proceeded to become role models for young girls all over the country, bringing women’s sport to the forefront of national pride, where it might otherwise have been ignored, so for that, we celebrate the likes of Jessica Ennis, Ellie Simmonds, Dani King, Laura Trott, Victoria Pendleton, Katherine Grainger and Helen Glover. Of course, there are so many more inspirational women that each of us may choose to celebrate on International Women’s Day, but we must not forget to also celebrate ourselves!

By Louise Hayward

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