In light of this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8th March 2018, our Partner Melinda Giles considers women’s rights and equality in our current society and why there is a continuing need for IWD across the globe.
Last year, a young male asked me why there was a need for an International Women’s Day in the UK considering that “women had equal rights in everything”. I was quite taken aback by his question; I paused (to take a sharp intake of breath and compose myself) before answering him.
I explained to him that the clue was really in the fact that it was International Women’s Day, and that the day itself is for women all around the world, many of whom are still suffering obscene discrimination. That we, in the civilised Western world, had an opportunity and a duty to lead the way for these women.
How shocking is it that within one year, the climate in the UK has changed so significantly. It is difficult now to think that it was only on the 4th October 2017 that we read the BBC’s own headline that “men working for the BBC earn an average of 9.3% more than women”. This story has, of course, unfolded to one much greater.
In the same week, Harvey Weinstein was sacked by the board of his company in the light of new information about misconduct. Within two weeks, all of us were looking at a new dawn for sexual harassment revelations.
Paying women less than men for the same job has been unlawful since the 1970 Equal Pay Act. Discriminating against women in the workplace has been unlawful for as many years and yet, it has now been proven to be a widespread practice.
We all knew it, but we could not put our finger on it. That is why, when I was asked last year why we needed International Women’s Day, I stalled in my answer. For too many years, too many of us felt the same.
We knew the laws were there, and we knew that we had had not one woman Prime Minister, but now two. We know that young dads change nappies and that we now have more freedom and choice than our mothers and grandmothers did in the past.
But, we absolutely know that our gut instinct – that things are still not fair – is right. So, on this International Women’s Day 2018 make sure you #PressForProgress to see all women, all around the world, achieve the equality that we all deserve.
Equality and Diversity at Giles Wilson
Equality and diversity are always at the top of our agenda. If you believe you have been discriminated against in the workplace, or equally if you wish to establish a fairer working environment, we can offer dedicated legal advice and assistance. For more information about our employment services, visit our website.
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