We’re midway through March which is Women’s History Month celebrating the amazing achievements of women around the world and their place as a strong force in society.
So far there have already been International Women’s Day where many people spoke out on social media about the inspirational women in their lives, as well as a ‘Million Women Rise’ march in London against the continual discrimination against women.
In our lives today we are surrounded by powerful, inspirational females like our Prime Minister, the Queen, first ladies like Michelle Obama, and even the Vice Chancellor of The University of Lincoln Mary Stuart.
This month it’s important that we not take for granted and forget the hundreds of years of struggle and protest it took to get to this point, and the years of progress still needed ahead.
Imagine planning to go out shopping with your friends for a day, but having to stop and ask your dad, brother, uncle or cousin, anyone male in your family if you can and to accompany you. Even deciding what you get.
This still continues around the world as well as many other issues which women tackle every day.
Many countries apply what is called Guardianship laws within their legal system. This means that a woman has to have a male guardian to consent to a variety of aspects in their lives. For example, a girl needs a male’s permission to enrol into any form of education, or to consent to paychecks, and given permission to marry.
In some cultures, women are even criminalised if they leave their home or go out without a male companion such as a father, brother, uncle or husband.
This is in place in Saudi Arabia and Jordan, where there is a serious gender hierarchy system based on rigidly traditional views of the sexes.
FGM was first outlawed in the UK in 1985 and the first person prosecuted for it was a mother of three only in February of this year.
FGM stands for Female Genital Mutilation and is defined as “All procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injuries to the female genital organs whether for cultural or other non-therapeutic reasons” by the World Health Organisation.
This normally occurs to girls between the ages of 6 and 12 and comes from century’s old traditions and many consider it as a religious requirement.
This is recognised as a human rights violation and is practised in 25 African countries and some Asian countries. Studies by UNICEF have estimated that over 200 million girls alive today have undergone FGM, with 3 million girls at risk every year.
With the constant international recognition of the issue and the education to girls and families in practising countries, FGM is decreasing but is still ongoing.
3) Sexual Harassment and Rape
The Crime Survey for England revealed that one in five women in England and Wales have gone through some form of sexual assault since the age of 16 and this hasn’t changed since 2005.
As well as rape crisis services being accessed by just under 80,000 individuals.
Sexual harassment can be things as simple as grouping or upskirting, which has just been made illegal, considered now as a part of Voyeurism.
The #METOO movement is campaigning against sexual harassment and assault against women, specifically in Hollywood and was used as a hashtag on social media to show the mass prevalence of it, especially in the workplace.
Rape and sexual assault is treated very seriously in this country, especially in the legal system, but we take for granted that in places such as India women are criminalised and blamed for reporting rape, or in conflict zones such as Syria where rape is used as a weapon of war and to impose power over women and victims.