Happy International Women’s Day everyone! 2019… We have come a long way. But the seemingly daily unfolding news stories, ever evident gender pay gaps and injustices faced by women worldwide show us that we still have a long, long way to go. This year’s theme for IWD 2019 is Balance For Better and it doesn’t just exist for today. The theme runs throughout the entire year in a call for acceleration towards gender-balance in all areas of life.
Women’s rights issues are human rights issues. And whilst we still have so much more to do in our lifetime to strive for this balance. I think it’s only natural that we also look towards the future for our kids and the generations that follow. So here are a few thoughts from myself, Alice and Charlotte about what we hope lies ahead for the next generation of women (like the two gorgeous O’Shea girls in the picture above). And if you can take the time today, it would be lovely to read your own hopes for the future in the comments below.
I don’t have daughters. I have two boys. And whilst I was going to write this piece purely from the perspective of the future generation of women, it dawned on me that when I think of the next generation, I naturally think of the part my sons will play in women’s rights. So my hope for the next generation is that my boys don’t see women’s rights as something for the girls to deal with. My hope is that they stand shoulder to shoulder with the women in their life, bolstering, strengthening and cheering them on. That they feel free to be truly and utterly themselves, without having to conform to antiquated parameters of masculinity. I want them to be kind, loving and open-hearted humans. I want them to treat women like Queens and for them to be treated like Kings in return. I hope for mutual respect, love and honesty for them all. Because the next generation of women will need incredible women in their lives. But they will also need incredible men too.
When we were discussing topics for International Women’s Day, it dawned on me that Charlotte is my first female boss. And I mean actual boss, not just person/manager above me, but full blown my-name-on-the-bills boss.
Empathy, compassion, tolerance, deference, and passionate are all apparent feminine traits but don’t they also sound like the best attributes for a boss? Someone who will understand your needs, be respectful but will also work their goddam arse off. Despite this and even in 2019, the gender pay gap is still prominent with, according to Personnel Today, only half of employers actually improving the issue. When I first moved to London 9 years ago, I met my (now) husband at work. We had the same level of experience for the job, we started literally a week apart and yet a year into the job when we had pay reviews and were both certainly pushing the company forward, his increase was higher than mine. It took me a long time to stop feeling embarrassed about that. It wasn’t to do with my ability, it was because I wasn’t born with a certain appendage.
So what are we supposed to do? In my opinion, one thing is to remember that this isn’t necessarily a battle against men. It’s about educating people, be they men or other women, how one small change can make a big difference. How it feels to have your work not respected in the same way because of your gender.
We need help each other, empower each other, talk more and strive to get in front of people with influence. If you have an idea, go out and get it. If you’re not being taken seriously, tell someone. Take responsibility for the economic future of the next line of girls, as the ones before us did.
My hopes for the next generation of girls is that they will keep tapping on that glass ceiling. Actually, not a tap, I hope it’s a bloody bulldozer.
I want my daughters to know they can achieve anything, be anything, do anything – regardless of gender or heritage. I would like to think that they won’t have to spend their lives trying to prove they are “better” or “equal to” anyone else, and that it’s about being the very best version of yourself. But of course I will encourage them to fight for what they believe in. Always. I want them to know that they need to help save what little we have left of our ever suffering planet, for their own daughters and sons. I want them to be happy. And kind. I want them to know that in the grand scheme of things we are here for such a short time, and they need to make the most of every day.