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Is 2018 FINALLY a good time to be a woman?

It's a complex area.

07 Mar 2018

Tomorrow is International Women’s Day: 24 hours set aside every year, to celebrate our political, social and economic achievements and general awesomeness.

I know what you’re thinking: do we really need one? Isn’t every day International Women’s Day now? We have marches, movements and hashtags - the weapon of choice for any self-respecting millennial feminist - and it’s actually cool to be a feminist today. In fact, we’re fairly sure it’s mandatory.

So, aren’t we finally in a good place?

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At first glance, it’s easy to say yes. There’s something in the air that feels like real change. The #metoo and #timesup movements were a palpable moment where women’s voices were not only being heard, but were powerful. They were toppling previously untouchable media giants, companies, politicians and stars. Being male, rich and powerful was suddenly no longer sufficient armour. Out of it has come a real effort to shift, not only unpalatable men from their positions, but the ugly views they represent, from public acceptance.

Yet most of this change has occurred just one year on from the last International Women’s Day.

Donald ‘pussy-grab’ Trump’s election to the Presidency of the United States last year was met with such a global shudder that millions of women (and men) took to the streets across the world to protest. It was the first mass march for women that my generation had seen in our lifetime, we thought marching for women’s rights was our parent's and grandparent’s battle - what did we have to fight for?

It turns out, quite a bit. The Trump election was a wake-up call for women everywhere, not just in America. It made us realise that our rights cannot be taken for granted. That was the message of the Women’s March in London just last Sunday. On the centenary of the first women in the UK to get the vote, banners read: “Let’s finish what the suffragettes started.”

Feminism was certainly not absent before 2017, but it was taking a little nap. Sure, we had Beyoncé and Dior T-shirts quoting Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s ‘We Should All Be Feminists’, but feminism was resoundingly words not deeds; all slogan tee no action. This past year was when feminism stopped caring about being nice, and started caring about getting stuff done.

Women took to the streets of London and Manchester last Halloween dressed as mummies, to demand action be taken on pregnancy discrimination. Period poverty was also finally addressed this last year, with the #FreePeriods protest in Parliament Square demanding free menstrual products for all children, and Bodyform’s Blood Normal campaign finally showing red blood in their adverts rather than blue liquid.

We had the first female-led (and female-directed) super hero movie with Wonder Woman. It took a staggering $819m at the global box office, and made little girls (and boys) want to be her. And there is Black Panther storming cinemas now, with its beautiful and inspiring depiction of strong black womanhood. TV had the stirring documentary drama The Handmaid’s Tale, which won every award going and made a red cape and white bonnet, not only the wokest Halloween costume ever, but also a powerful symbol of women’s resistance and resilience.

Things that matter to women, that affect women, are finally getting heard, and action is being taken. But there is still so far to go. 2017 may have given us strong female activism, but it also gave us ‘Legsit’- a tabloid headline comparing, not Nicola Sturgeon and Theresa May’s policies, but their legs. The royal family may have a modern, vocal activist as its latest addition; but we still focus on what Meghan Markle wears, not what she says.

The UK gender pay gap still stands at 14.1%, only 38% of company directors are female, men in the UK are still 40% more likely to be promoted, and we still lose 54,000 working women from employment every year after they become mothers.

Feminism is finally waking up to its need to be intersectional; namely embracing and addressing queer women, trans women and women of colour, but it still has a long way to go. Globally, many women and young girls also face more than just biased boardrooms; but rape, violence and effectively second-class citizenship. We may be celebrating the downfall of Harvey Weinstein, but women in Saudi Arabia are only just high-fiving about their right to drive.

So this International Women’s Day does fall at a good time to be a woman, because that time is one where we are once again seeing the power of female resistance to make a change.

And that’s a good thing, because there’s still a lot of work to do. So who's with me?

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