I hope you have all had a lovely and empowering day celebrating the lives and achievements of women across the globe. I for one have been tremendously inspired by things I've seen online today, from tweets encouraging women to stand together and support one another to Youtube videos sharing this year's IWD's theme : #BeBoldForChange. IWD commemorates the struggles women have faced in the past and encourages us to continue the movement for gender equality. Something that has been brought to my attention by this year's theme and really rings true in my own life is how women, more than men, tend to be unnecessarily apologetic for their success. In my own life, I play down my own achievements for fear of being labelled big-headed or arrogant. Its one thing being modest, but if you say that you're not good enough so many times, you begin to internalise it. Why do I play-down my achievements, passions and the causes I believe in when I should be proud of them? What would happen if I confidently expressed my thoughts and myself instead of constantly justifying myself? Would people judge me as arrogant? Or might they be interested or even inspired?
Gender equality is about choice, freedom, fairness, and crucially, not reducing women (or men) to one thing. I think this was really exemplified last week when Emma Watson's advocation of gender equality was criticised, or devalued, because she posed for Vanity Fair 'topless' (not really topless at all but showing a bit more boobage than usual - for shame! *rolls eyes*). Instead of taking Emma as a whole person she was solely depicted and judged her by her body. Supposedly, the way Emma presented herself contradicted and negated her views on gender equality. For me, this is completely and utterly missing the point of feminism and the fight for gender equality. Why are women constantly reduced to and judged by just one thing? Should we really have to dress a certain way to be taken seriously? Can we only be intelligent or beautiful? How many times does it need to be said? You can be a feminist and embrace your sexuality. You can wear high heels, and be intelligent, and be a feminist, and like men, and wear makeup.
I want to share with you some videos of women who have inspired me. Firstly, my favourite speaker, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie who I was introduced to a couple of years ago. She approaches the topic of gender equality in such a reasonable, logical, everyday way that its impossible not to be engaged and convinced by her. And, since I've spoke so much about her, here is Emma Watson's 'He for She' UN speech and an excellent article by The Huffington Post explaining why we still need feminism.
On March 8th, and every other day of the year, be bold. Educate and empower yourself and others around you. Celebrate women's achievements of the past, the present, and all the achievements yet to come.
What makes you proud to be a woman (or a man)? What women inspire you?