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Reasons to be optimistic this IWD

8 March 2013

“Women just want something to moan about. They’ve got the vote, what’s the problem?” I genuinely overheard this comment during a conversation about gender equality between two blokes on the train to Brighton.

Of course, this obnoxious viewpoint must be tackled. Luckily, I know that a fleet of witty women writing their IWD (International Women’s Day) blogs right now will take on the glaring wrongness of the second half, so I’ll challenge the first half.

I’m not going to moan at all. In fact, I find that this International Women’s Day it’s cheeringly easy to look at the positives.

I remember IWD two years ago – the Observer was edited by Annie Lennox and, well, that was it for mainstream media. I was outraged.

Two years on and we’ve come a long way. Journalists are requesting IWD content, charities and businesses are planning events and joyously, lots of our clients are getting involved.

When I came to write this blog, I thought about the things that I’d taken part in today that were positive for women, and was very pleased to have a list bursting to full.

This morning I helped our client the Science Museum promote their first ever IWD event to get more girls into Science or Tech careers. I heard about our latest WAGGGs project, a long term client of ours, who are the official charity partner of InternationalWomen’ and spearheading the global women’s rights movement.

I spoke to another of our clients, Girlguiding UK, who with Julie Bentley at the helm are at an extremely exciting phase, with their stratospheric potential in the feminist movement about to be realised.

I heard from ex-Forster-ite and all round wonderful person Katie McCrory, who has just held her best attended version of Big Blonde yet. Big Blonde is a networking event designed to fill the gaping hole for ambitious young women who want to network and support each other, rather than bring each other down.

On my desk is a book, Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Infidel, given back to me back a friend – the story of a woman who grew up repressed, suffered genital mutilation and lived to campaign for women’s rights. Read it, if you haven’t. Wonderfully, it is sitting on a copy of the Sunday Times, which tells me that David Cameron has pledged millions of pounds to end female mutilation.

Finally, a colleague reminds me of the event we helped artist Suzanne Lacey run at Tate Modern a few weeks ago – Silver Action. It was an interactive artwork involving 400 amazing, inspirational women all aged 60+, who had been involved in activism. Hearing their stories and helping relay them through social media and the press was a wonderful and eye-opening experience.

Everyone’s hopping on the bandwagon. And it’s great, bandwagon hopping is what we need. If people get involved with whatever they can – be it organising an event or pledging millions – we can tackle the hundreds, nay, thousands of ways that women are still horribly mistreated in society.

Sometimes thinking about the scope of gender issues still to be tackled can make you feel much like the good guys in The Return of the King did (I watched it last night) as the army of 300 men sets out to tackle the 10,000 strong black army of Mordor. I would encourage you to think like Gimli the Dwarf – “almost certain death, tiny chance of success – what are we waiting for?”

In case you haven’t seen it, they win.