International Women’s Day 2019

Student Writer Emily talks about the significance of International Women’s Day, and shares how we can all get involved this year.

What is it?

March 8th marks International Women’s Day; a focal point in the movement for women’s rights. International Women’s Day occurs annually and has done for the past century: a global day which celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This year however you should expect to see the official campaign hashtag of #BalanceforBetter trending on social media, as International Women’s Day will be making a call for action on accelerating gender balance.

Why celebrate it?

Anyone can celebrate International Women’s Day and honour remarkable contributions to our society. This positive protest recognises the need to continue to build more equitable societies. It’s particularly important as women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political.

Notable alumni such as Edith Morley, remind us of how far women’s rights have come in the past 100 years. Appointed as Professor of English Language at Reading in 1908, she is believed to be the first woman to be awarded the title professor in an English University. If you happen to be down on the London Road campus, you can check out her commemorative plaque on route to the Dairy.

Striking up the #BalanceforBetter pose

How can you get involved?

On campus, Reading University Feminist Society (FemSoc) are celebrating International Women’s Day with a showing of ‘Hidden Figures’ in the evening. This event welcomes anyone to attend and will feature a debate and discussion afterwards with a focus on the IWD theme of ‘Better for Balance’, led by their Diversity Officer. Though this is a free event, they will be taking donations to raise money for Trust House Reading and providing snacks and pizza. Yes, you read that right: pizza. In other words, cancel that quiet night in and take your flatmates along to enjoy a thought-provoking film and stimulating discussion to celebrate the important day.

If you feel too busy to spare your evening, you can still get involved by wearing something purple in your outfit. Historically, purple has been used a colour for symbolising women and has been associated with efforts to achieve gender equality.

In this context, it was used alongside green and white as these were the colours of the Women’s Social and Political Union. When the suffragettes fought for their right to vote, purple represented ‘the royal blood that flows in the veins of every suffragette’ and therefore IWD uses the colour purple in solidarity as a tribute to the suffragettes.

Put International Women’s Day in your diary, get involved via social media and if you’re brave enough, take a photo and strike up the official #BalanceforBetter pose too!

By Emily Shewell

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