International Women’s Day

This month’s winner of Writers’ Corner is by Lottie Frost and is taken from the speech delivered for The Grove’s entry in the Churchill Public Speaking Competition. It was developed with the rest of the team – Georgie Ingham and Valeria Paslar – and Lottie was praised for her well-constructed argument, effective use of evidence and her clear, passionate and genuinely emotive delivery. On International Women’s Day, its message is more relevant than ever, especially as this year’s theme is ‘Choose to Challenge’. Well done to Lottie, Georgie and Valeria: three young women who choose to challenge and who are sure to make a difference in the world.

On October 16, 1916 Margret Sanger made history, opening the first birth control clinic (after decades of advocating for birth control rights) in the United States and later becoming an international leader in this field. Margaret Sanger did not let governmental power, controlled by men, dictate what she was capable of doing and even spent time in jail after authorities realised she had opened a birth control clinic without permission. However, the publicity as a result of this sparked a public debate and gave Margret Sanger another chance in which she succeeded and allowed women, in many countries across the world, to have a choice with their body. By not allowing men in power to silence her, Margaret Sanger achieved her goal. She did not accept but challenged.

In the 1960s, women began entering the workforce in the UK; after years of the feminist movement advocating for women’s right to work, the pay gap was astounding but for the 1960s it was just an accomplishment that women were finally given the chance. You’d think in the 21st century that there are no longer any pay gaps, however this is not the case. The gender pay gap from data last year was on average 15.5%, which doesn’t seem like much, but it’s still there, it still exists, and it does make an impact. Research shows that as well as this pay gap, if I were to apply for a job with the exact same qualifications as a man also applying, I would have 30% less of a chance of getting the job, simply because of being a woman. Explain to me how this is fair? Explain to me how this is equality? Explain to me why we should be disadvantaged because of our gender? I either don’t understand or this is wrong. There are 197 countries in the world, yet The World Bank found only 6 of those countries enshrine equal legal work rights for women and England is not one of those 6. We must not accept this, as Margret Sanger once said. We must challenge it.

Opportunities for young women in education have always been limited, which I’ve never understood. Our country was the first to allow a female student to attend university back in 1878 but still to this day, 130 million girls do not receive an education which is both shocking and disheartening. If I were to have been born in a country such as South Sudan, there would be no chance I would have an opportunity to read a speech like this; in fact, I probably wouldn’t even be able to read and if I did try and voice my opinion, I could put myself in serious danger. This is a reality for women born in these countries. You may have heard of the inspiring Malala Yousafzai, a young girl who was born in Pakistan and demanded that girls should be allowed to receive an education. She was shot in the head for using her voice but luckily she survived and became the famous activist she is today. She did not accept but challenged and I think because us women born in England have the gift of education, it is our duty to stand with – and for – women born in these limited countries, to challenge their governments and fight for the gift we take for granted, that they never get to experience.

This next issue is something I can say happens in practically every civilised country which feels normalised, but is extremely wrong: men taking advantage and objectifying women. If you were to ask 5 women if they’ve ever experienced cat calling, I guarantee at least 4 out of the 5 you ask will say yes. In fact 5 out of the 5 you might ask could say yes as 99% of women in a recent study admitted to experiencing some sort of street harassment. Unfortunately, this isn’t rare and happens to so many people. The respect some men have for women is bare to none and I find it disgusting how so many take advantage of us women. Every 10 minutes, somewhere in the world, an adolescent girl dies as a result of violence and nearly 1 in 5 girls are sexually abused at least once in her lifetime. And so many people don’t know this, but they need to.

In the UK, we are very grateful for our NHS. Especially now while they are saving the lives of people fighting COVID-19 and risking their lives. Well, 77% of NHS workers are female. They deserve respect; we deserve respect. Gender equality has never existed; we continue to get closer to it, but until we can afford to stop challenging the limitations we have, we know there is still reason to fight for it. Woman must not accept; she must challenge. #choosetochallenge


Posted by marchesadmin on 5th March 2021, under groveadmin

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