International Women’s Day: Storify and comment

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International Women's Day 2013 Image: Carol Kirbage

Storify: International Women’s Day in Islington

International Women’s Day celebrates the achievements of women past and present while looking ahead to tackling the inequalities that still exist today. IWD was alive and kicking in Islington, with events and enterprises including a letter from Michelle Obama to the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School and a projection of Newington Green’s Mary Wollstonecraft on the Houses of Parliament. Here’s our Storify of how Islington celebrated International Women’s Day…

http://storify.com/islingtonnow/international-women-s-day

Comment: International Women’s Day – “One day is just not enough” by Sarah Pilchick

Yesterday was International Women’s Day. You might know that from the tweets and posts with the hashtag #IWD, the sudden prominence of women-related news, and the idiots asking why there is no International Men’s Day. But one day a year isn’t nearly enough.

The adage that women should be seen and not heard is, mercifully, antiquated – women are everywhere and they are, quite understandably, loud and proud. Abortion rights are at the forefront of most Western states’ national debates, and promoting equality, whether through quotas or other means, is a key part of the discourse in Western Europe and North America.

We hear about women in the West every day. It’s women in developing countries that we never hear of, and who deserve to be at the forefront of news every day. Discussing economic, social, and political inequality should not just be relegated to the one day a year that “celebrates” women. Check out the homepages of most major UK newspapers – the “women’s news” that was so prominently featured yesterday is gone. The International Women’s Day celebration being held on Upper Street lasts just three and a half hours – look tomorrow and there will likely be no trace of it.

Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old Pakistani advocate for girls’ education who was critically shot by Taliban assailants, was all over the news after the unprovoked and unwarranted attack on her life. There was a brief and unsuccessful campaign for her to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and that is it. Newspapers cover her every now and then, but there’s rarely a mention of the struggle for improved access to education that led to the attack against her.

We rarely hear about the hideous practice of female genital mutilation happening in parts of Africa; the fact that FGM is discussed in The Book of Mormon and not, say, the Guardian or The Times is disgusting. In the United States, there is one columnist who regularly writes on women’s issues. Nick Kristof is a fantastic advocate for women around the world, and the documentary he produced with his wife, fellow journalist Sheryl WuDunn, is absolutely brilliant and horrifying.

Half the Sky is the most vital piece of film-making I’ve seen in a very long time, and the issues he discusses – such as domestic abuse, human trafficking, unequal access to education, and supporting rape victims in staunchly patriarchal societies – should not be relegated to a weekly column or a one-off documentary. These issues should be on the front pages of newspapers every day, be discussed on every news programme, and be at the forefront of our minds.

As the former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a 1995 speech, women’s rights are human rights. Women’s issues are human issues. And International Women’s Day should be every single day of the year.