Members of the Girls Out Loud team joined the women of Nantwich in their candle-lit ceremony on Friday evening. It was a reminder that although the women of Britain have fought long and hard for sexual equality they still have a way to go. Women’s rights have been enshrined in law but many men pay lip service to the principle while still holding tightly to the reins of power through established, clubbish networks which are deeply rooted in our society. Women must overcome this last hurdle, infiltrate and open up the ‘old boy’ clubs if they are to succeed in becoming truly equal socio-political partners. The many recently publicised cases of sexual harassment of women by men in positions of power show us just how vital it is to keep up the pressure.
But how much more vital must it be in countries where women have not even managed the first hurdle – to be accepted as equal in principle? The callous rape and torture of a young woman on a bus in New Delhi and the cynical, heartless shooting of the Pakistani schoolgirl who dared to want an education are just two cases to have achieved international exposure. We can be sure they are the tip of the iceberg of oppression, violence and degradation. Keep up the pressure at home, but take it abroad as well. Don’t forget the ‘I’ in IWD.