However, as much as we take special days to celebrate, it is important that we spend every day continuing to take action for gender equality. Despite the celebrations, it is important to remember we do not live in a gender equal world, far from it.
The differences are vast across countries and continents, but even in our developed Western world, equality is still believed to be at least a century away. The gender pay gap still exists, despite legislation having been around for over 50 years to prevent it. The gender pension gap is stark, with women retiring with an average £100,000 less in their pension than a man of similar age.
There are not enough women in senior roles and in boardrooms, yet the evidence shows what a difference this can make to the success of a company. Not enough women exist in politics, yet again, a quick look to New Zealand shows for me personally, the benefits this can bring to a country.
Women make up only 25% of STEM roles and women in sport, and, as my favourite subject, this disheartens me the most. As a woman in her 40’s I was not allowed to play the sport I loved during PE in school because I was a girl and not a boy. So witnessing elite women’s sport stopped in the past year when elite men’s sport has been deemed too important to halt hits home again how far we are from anywhere near equality. But then we rarely have a voice in the boardrooms where these decisions are made, so am I really surprised? Surely we must all want the same opportunities for our daughters in their lives as we do for our sons?
If I turn on the TV, I still rarely get to watch a movie with a female director and I still see the male gaze dominate my viewing. In 2021 over half of movies will fail the Bechdel test, most basically described as more than two women appearing in a movie and having dialogue with each other about something other than just a man. But has the portrayal of women other than sexualised objects really moved on that much when I look online or in the papers?
The Women and Equalities Parliamentary Committee reported last year that over 6 in 10 women in the UK feel negative about their body image. Diet culture, post-childbirth pressures, being bombarded with images of photo-shopped, edited and sexualised women as well as the aging process and the lack of visual representation of older women are all things that cause women to suffer with poor body image.
As a club, we campaigned with the UN last year as part of their 16 days of action to end violence against women. The World Health Organisation recently advised that 1 in 3 women globally will suffer physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. But violence isn’t just the problem, it is also the way it is reported with the language used most often, still suggesting that a woman is somehow responsible due to her action or inaction.
If we care about human rights, we should all believe in equality. While celebratory days are good, we should all bear the responsibility to make the differences every day to bring parity around a lot sooner than the lifetime of the grandchildren still a generation away.
Laura Montgomery is Chief Executive of Glasgow City Football Club, www.glasgowcityfc.co.uk