The first definition given of the noun ‘woman’ from the Oxford Dictionary is an ‘adult human female’. If you read down a little further, there is another definition: ‘a female who is paid to clean someone’s house and carry out other domestic duties’. I don’t think it is a surprise that I completely disagree with the second definition.They don’t make being a woman sound very fun, do they?
Unfortunately, throughout history and in some areas of the world today, it isn’t fun to be a woman. When I think back to being a British girl growing up, I’m not inundated with memories of discrimination, violence or threat. However, currently, in the 21st-century, women and girls in other countries find themselves being attacked for pursuing basic rights, such as access to education. 7 years ago, in Pakistan, Malala found herself under attack for speaking out publicly for her, and all girls’ right to learn. This was only 7 years ago. Malala now lives in the UK, and attends Oxford university. She continues to fight for the millions of girls who are being denied the right to learn.
Britain could be argued to be on the right path towards equality – but compared to what, other countries? This isn’t some sort of competition, although many seem to think it is when International Women’s Day comes around each year, on March 8th. “Well, why isn’t there an International Men’s Day?”, when actually there is one. It’s on November 19th and by doing this you are completely disregarding the point of the day.
Britain wasn’t always on that arguably right path, and thousands of women died in the 19th and 20th centuries fighting for their right to vote. These women died fighting to have equal rights that would allow them to have a say in who represents them, and who runs their country – they died fighting to tick a box on a piece of paper! Society was in a completely different place back then, but there is still no excuse – and there will never be one. I find myself being incredibly grateful for women, such as Emily Davison, for their protest, and that now aged 18, I do have the right to vote. I wrote my A-Level History coursework on the different factors that impacted the passing of the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act in 1918, and then the Representation of the People Act in 1928. Whilst parliament and the world wars did have an influence, ultimately the ongoing fight from British women was the main factor.
I am proud to be a woman. I am proud that I can sit here and write that I can – and will, vote. However, I can’t let me being British hide the fact that my situation is not the same across the world. Stereotypes, perceptions and even religion mean that worldwide, women are held back from their human rights and equality. Whilst I believe there is only one country that women aren’t actually allowed to vote (the Vatican City), women in places such as Pakistan can find it difficult to get to the polling stations and those who do are threatened with violence.
A form of violence girls and women are subjected to is FGM. FGM is violent and a form of torture, yet as I am writing this a BBC news alert just told me that there has been the first person in the UK to be found guilty of FGM – and she is to be sentenced on March 8th. This is good news, as it shows the UK criminal justice system is fighting back, although FGM is happening across the world and those girls and women don’t have the criminal justice system on their side.
So, what does being a woman mean to me? Being a woman means being proud of who and what I am. It means that I will fight for women to have human rights and it also means loving myself and loving the people around me. The people that pull me up when I get down, the people that empower me and the people that show me just that love back.
So do what you got to do. Fight for what you believe in and deserve and be proud to be who you are.
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Millie is a lifestyle blogger, who currently writes about health, fitness, wellbeing, history, and more. If you are interested in learning more about what you can do to decrease stress, better your health or learn about the events that shaped our world to be what it is today – then check out her links below!
Header image – https://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/politics/hidden-credits-1-millicent-fawcett-ethel-smyth
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