Do we still need to mark International Women’s Day in 2016?
It’s a question we asked 16 of our favourite women from tech pioneers to TV presenters.
Here’s what they said, and why you need to get onboard and shout about it this year.
Gloria De Piero MP, Shadow Minister for young people and voter registration
‘Yes, because I am only the 366th woman to be elected to Parliament, one of just 460 women since 1918. At the current rate, a baby born today will be drawing her pension before she sees equal numbers of men and women in Parliament! This just isn’t good enough – and I want to see women from every background getting involved in politics to change it.’
Laura Mvula British Singer Songwriter
‘We need a day to celebrate great women doing great things. On International Women’s Day we are not only reminded of these women, but each of us refuelled and impassioned to reach higher. Why in 2016 do people still find it incomprehensible that women like me can write, produce AND perform, presuming a man must be behind my material? In so many industries, women are still undervalued, underestimated. Today is about shouting about our achievements and taking the credit we deserve.’
Kathryn Parsons, co-founder of international tech start-up Decoded, which aims to increase digital literacy, particularly amongst women.
‘We are at an unparalleled moment in time, in the midst of a digital revolution which is as terrifying as it is exciting. The future is written in lines of code and women must be a part of that. Technology’s potential to shift women’s place in society for the better, for the first time in human existence, is here. We must come together globally in order to harness this power for good.’
Olivia Wayne, Sky Sports News Presenter
‘We still need International Women’s Day because some people think what Hilary wears is more controversial than what Trump says.’
Natasha Walter feminist writer and founder of charity Women For Refugee Women
‘International Women’s Day is a chance for us to connect women’s struggles in the UK and across the world. At a time when so many people are on the move, it’s vital that we stand in solidarity with our migrant and refugee sisters who are facing so many challenges and dangers. I particularly hope that this International Women’s Day will be the start of greater shared understanding and action on behalf of women who are crossing borders to find safety.’
Anita Rani, TV Presenter
‘So many women don’t yet have basic rights let alone equality. I meet too many women who don’t have a voice, who are denied an education, who’s thoughts and opinions are irrelevant. We need to mark today because of FGM, child marriages, female infanticide, prostitution, slavery, rape, denial of education, domestic violence. We are half the human race and should be equal and free to do what we choose not what men decide for us.’
Stella Creasy MP
‘Because the fight for equality is only just beginning – whether in the workplace, the home or on the streets, women face barriers to realising their potential that mean we all miss out on what they can offer our society. IWD helps remind people what we need to work on changing the other 364 days a year.”
Louise Pentland, vlogger, blogger and internet sensation
‘So many women across the world are still unble to reach their full potential. They lack access to a proper education, family planning facilities, safe homes and career opportunities. Until every woman has these things and more, we still need International Women’s Day.’
Harriet Harman MP, Ex Deputy Prime Minister
‘We still need International Women’s Day because it’s a day for all women to protest that women are still not equal with many facing violence and oppression. Its a day to commit ourselves to working together as women, at home and abroad, for equality for every woman everywhere.”
Sarah Brown, President of children’s charity Theirworld, and wife of ex Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
‘In 2016, you can still hear men AND women – utter the words, “That’s not for girls.” These embedded values start as a girl is born and continue to shape the world around her. It’s vital that we acknowledge and change the embedded values that hold girls back whether in the heart of the UK or the most remote part of Africa or the Syrian refugee camps. Theirworld have chosen today to launch a new campaign to celebrate amazing women everywhere who are #RewritingTheCode in the work they do – those working to ensure a future where every girl has the same opportunities and life chances as boys.’
Sam Smethers, Chief Executive, Fawcett Society, The largest UK charity with a focus on advancing women’s rights and equality in the Britain.
‘Its a day of celebration and solidarity, a day to recognise our shared struggle for rights and equality. 150 years ago when The Fawcett Society was founded, a woman and all she owned belonged to her father or her husband. We have fought and won reproductive, voting, education, working and maternity rights. But in the UK we still have a pay gap of 14%, 54,000 women a year experience pregnancy discrimination and 2 women each week are murdered by a partner or ex-partner. Our work is far from done.
Sue Black OBE is an award winning computer scientist and Advisor to UK Government Digital Services
‘Our society, is vaguely misogynist. Women have been, and are still, given less opportunity to make the most of their lives. Our culture makes it easiest for everyone to live life as a stereotype, diminishing opportunity and curbing potential. IWD is a wonderful opportunity for us to celebrate all the amazing women who have gone before us, and think about the incredible future world that we would like to create for the girls and women yet to be born.’
Kate Osamor MP
“Women are estimated to earn £300,000 less than men over their lifetime. Austerity is hitting women the hardest, with 81% of the treasury’s savings since 2010 through tax and benefit changes coming from the pockets of women. To put it simply, our economy is making women pay. We need to hold the government to account and fight to change this.”
Janneke Niessen was recently named European Digital Woman of the Year and is co-founder of Inspiring Fifty and Improve Digital, which showcase female role models to inspire young girls.
‘My hope is that then one day we won’t need this special day at all. In reality, we should be having conversations about women’s achievements every day of the year if we are to really bring about change. But unfortunately we still need International Women’s Day in 2016. We need it until we have an equal number of women in leadership positions, women earning the same as men for the same work, and women across the world having the same rights as men. Because until that happens, every other day of the year is basically International Men’s Day.’
Rosette Pambakian, Vice President of communications and branding at Tinder, said:
‘If we want to empower and inspire future generations to create innovations that change the world, we cannot allow the playing field to favor one gender. We all lose. Women make up 51% of the population. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t represent more than 16 percent of top C-level jobs and corporate board seats. It’s imperative we speak out for equality in pay, funding and opportunities.”
Noella Coursaris Musunka is the founder of Malaika, a nonprofit organisation that works to educate and empower girls in Africa.
While great strides have been made, there is still much work left to be done to ensure equality between men and women. It is important to mark International Women’s Day because its an opportunity to reflect on the choices we are making, as individuals and as a society, and on how each one of us can contribute to a more just world. Through our charity, we are creating an entire generation of agents of change, the leaders of tomorrow who will have a positive impact on the future of the Democratic Republic of Congo.