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International Women’s Day is Cause to Celebrate But We Need to Keep up the Fight

By Solicitor, Employment

It’s been 100 years since women were given the right to vote.

They formed pressure groups, organised petitions, marched and took physical action in their fight for equality.

Yet it still took another ten years for them to get the vote on the same terms as men.
Forty years after that, in 1968, it was the strike by the sewing machinists at Ford Dagenham that led to the Equal Pay Act in 1970.

There’s no doubting there have been many achievements in the battle for gender equality over the years and we’ve certainly come a long way.

But sadly, while inequalities were obvious 100 years ago – women knew they had a poor deal with no right to vote - the struggle isn’t over and the fight for many of us nowadays is to banish more insidious forms of discrimination and inequality.

From shining a light on the gender pay gap and sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace, it’s important to keep the dialogue going and remind women that being treated the same as their male counterparts is a right and not a privilege.
While the law can provide a framework for equality, what we need is real equality that matters on a day to day basis.

We need to tackle unconscious bias and stereotyping, which often starts at early age in our school years.

For example, the subjects that girls are often encouraged to take and study, and the career paths that they are encouraged to follow, and more importantly it is how women are perceived in the workplace once they decide to have children.

Today, women have the right to request flexible working. They don’t have a guaranteed right to work flexibly. More often than not, it is a woman who sacrifices her career to raise children or take on caring responsibilities.

Whilst the last 50 years have seen the women’s movement push through The Sex Discrimination Act making it illegal to discriminate against women in work, education and training and The Equal Opportunities Commission came into effect to oversee the Equal Pay Act and Sex Discrimination Act, there is still much more we need to achieve.
Today is certainly a day to celebrate how far we’ve come but it is imperative that we continue the fight. 

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