Happy International Women’s Day 2017

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Today marks more than 100 years since the inaugural International Women’s Day. We are once again reminded that despite the phenomenal strides women from all walks of life have made, we are still stuck behind cultural, social, and political challenges for gender equality.

I do not want this post to be a feminist rant (frankly speaking, I have issues with the term ‘feminism’ that I may pick up in a later blog) but for now I want to give a brief insight in to today’s event that I organised for International Women’s Day at work, with the theme Women in Science.

I met some admirable Professors, Postdocs, Students, overall females from different stages of their career and heard their experiences and obstacles they faced in a male dominated field.

Sat there in the audience, with one eye on the clock panicking that we are overrunning and one eye on the projector waiting to run over for an IT issue that I would be hopeless at, I still managed to listen in and some key parts of the talk either surprised me or resonated with me.

The female speakers all seemed to constantly refer to this dubious term ‘luck’, being at the right place at the right time, luckily being pushed into positions, luckily being offered promotions. But what does this term ‘luck’ realistically mean. Are we as women using ‘luck’ as a scapegoat for the real reasons we are given opportunities – because we work so damn hard! We deserve them!

As women we wear so many hats on a daily basis, as a mother, daughter, wife, colleague, cleaner, cook, carer, diary, mediator, that when something comes through for us we either feel guilt at the opportunity, guilt giving more time to work than home, or guilt of giving more time to the children than at work or we feel that we have been extremely ‘lucky’ in our achievement. Echoing the words of today’s host, we should be able to stand up proud and accept the opportunity for what it is,  not ours out of luck or something that we should feel guilty about but feel PRIDE in.

We at times are our biggest barriers; our self-belief is so little that we believe we are not the right person for the job in particular in male dominated fields. In turn we make excuses rather than possibilities.

It’s fitting that the theme of International Women’s Day 2017 is #BeBoldforChange. In an ever-growing interconnected world, we all have a responsibility to stand up for gender equality, and that is not just females standing up for females, but ALL of humanity as this will support people everywhere, this is an international crisis, Happy International Women’s Day.

Written by Sameera Rafiq

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Happy International Women’s Day!

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March 8th marks one of the greatest days in history! Yes ladies and gentlemen, lets welcome International Women’s Day! A day to raise awareness on gender inequality and celebrate women’s achievements throughout history and across nations.

“Connecting Girl. Inspiring Futures”. The motto of 2014 International Women’s Day. One that I am sure has filled your social media feeds!

I thought it would only be fitting to begin with thanking women in the media today – the unforgettable debt to Kim Kardashian for showing young girls how hard work pays off – oh the blood, sweat and tears (literally) taken to make the one sex tape that broke Hollywood. Miley Cyrus, for not letting us girls down and giving us an opportunity to redeem ourselves with perfecting the twerk. Last but not least, Kate Moss for reminding us how ‘nothing tastes better than being skinny’! Lets hope Primark stocked up on their size zeros.

Sadly, we live in world where the bad is thrived on and the good forgotten. So I would like to shine a light on those true inspirational women, who I would want as my sisters, daughters and even granddaughters role models.

Warning: Kleenex may be needed.

The plight of Malala Yousafzai, education activist, awakened us all and highlighted the courage and bravery of women around the world. The importance of education, respect  and having a voice.

“I could either not speak and die, or speak and then die. I chose the second one” (Malala Yousafzai)

Emmeline Pankhurt, founder of the Women’s Socialist and Political Union, who played a vital role in gaining the vote for women during the suffragette movement in the early 20th century and spread a message of hope.

“We have to free half of the human race, the women, so that they can help to free the other half.” (Emmeline Pankhurst)

Elizabeth Gaskell, the Queen of Victorian novels, who used her pen to highlight the economic and social divides in Engalnd as well as being the backbone to her husband’s success, William Gaskell.

“Thinking has, many a time, made me sad, darling; but doing never did in all my life” (Elizabeth Gaskell)

The list of female activists who deserve to be remembered on this special day is endless. So I give three big cheers for all the women in every corner of the world, wishing them a Happy Internationals Women’s Day!

But in doing so, I want everyone to take a special moment to remember all those women still in suffering: the single mothers, those in unhealthy relationships, victims of rape and domestic violence and those who now call a war zone their home – a prayer goes out to all women in war torn countries whose homes, families and livelihoods have been destroyed.

I dedicate this post to one of the greatest women I ever knew – my Nan. R.I.P (17/02/2014)