International Women’s Day

This weekend, on Saturday, it was International Women’s Day, an occasion for both celebrating the numerous achievements of women all over the world and highlighting the social and political problems that still exist along gender divisions.

All the legal press seems to be doom and gloom about women in the law so at MD Communications we thought this would be a good opportunity to look back over the last year and highlight some of the achievements by women and for women that we have seen in 2013-2014.

Wendy Davis, a single mum who made her way from a trailer park to Harvard Law School became famous the world over when, as a Texas state senator, she filibustered a Republican bill aimed at reducing abortion rights. The Democrat politician proved both mental and physical fortitude during the dramatic 11-hour standoff and is now running for Governor.

The Duchess of Cambridge appeared in public for the first time after giving birth to a healthy baby boy – with her post pregnancy belly showing. For a woman under such intense public scrutiny by a media that mercilessly punishes female lumps and bumps, even on a post birth figure, this was a glorious reality check.

The Oscars became a platform for promoting the female protagonist in film as a commercial success, as Cate Blanchet (Best Actress winner) chastised entrenched Hollywood attitudes that pigeonhole women. She dismissed those “who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films with women at the centre are niche experiences”. “They are not,” she said. “Audiences want to see them, and in fact, they earn money.”

At the Sochi Winter Olympics of the four medals that Team GB bought home with them, three were won by women or women’s teams, equaling the medals Great Britain won at the inaugural Winter Olympics in Chamonix 1924.

The World Health Organisation declared violence against women to be a global health problem of epidemic proportions. Whilst not good news in itself, the fact that a non-feminist, objective and mainstream organisation had taken this view to the international press finally acknowledged the reality of a situation that women have suffered for years.

The fight against female genital mutilation finally got a voice as the campaign against the practice went from low level to mainstream TV channels like Channel 4 and politicians such as Jeremy Hunt tweeted that it is a form of child abuse.

Feminism is not a dirty word as numerous celebrities proved when they publicly associated themselves with it, including Lena Dunham, Claire Danes, Lorde, Amy Poehler, Ellen Page, Patrick Stewart and John Legend.

And not forgetting women in the law… also made some progress with former City solicitor Fiona Woolf becoming the Lord Mayor of London for the year 2013/14 and a number of firms undertaking efforts to boost female partner numbers.

With women still making up the majority of minimum wage workers, being disproportionately poorly represented on the boards of companies, in parliament and in management positions and still held back in sectors such as the law by out of date attitudes, inadequate childcare provision and insufficient flexibility in the workplace, there is still a long way to go.

However, as the above illustrates, there was also a lot to celebrate on International Women’s Day 2014.

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