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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