The 8th of March passed as quickly as it came. Whilst the University of Nottingham hosted an array of events to celebrate, we ask: was it enough?

International Women’s Day. A commemoration of the movement for women’s rights. A celebration of two X chromosomes. 24 out of the 8760 hours of the year to act like we’re equal to men. Ha.

My friend once told me: “International Women’s Day shouldn’t just end at midnight of the 8th of March. No. International Women’s Day should be like Independence Day. A celebration of the beginning of a new era”.

Wise words, my friend, wise words. But unfortunately we’re not quite there yet.

Everywhere in the world women are still being swarmed by waves of sexism. Genital mutilation. Forced marriages. Unequal pay. Sexual objectification. Slavery. And last but not least, feminism.

In our desperate search for equality, we are taking the concept of feminism, a movement for women’s rights on the ground of equality of the sexes, to a new unparalleled level.

It is developing a bad reputation amidst femmephobic people, tarnished by those women who seem to have forgotten that our aim isn’t to rule the world but to co-run it.

“As I walked around the University on the 8th March, the confusion was palpable”

In a time where change is crucial for the survival of a principled society, Emma Watson asks us a question: “How can we make a difference for the generations to come when only half of the population is invited to participate in the movement?”

Men and women need to join forces. We need to accept that physically we are different, but that our wish to change the world indisputably unites us.

As I walked around the University on the 8th March, the confusion was palpable. Labels are destroying us, silently infiltrating themselves in our daily misconceptions of what a man and a woman should act like and represent.

International Women’s Day didn’t feel like an opportunity to celebrate a beautiful parity that should have, by now, been attained. Rather, both girls and boys seemed unsure of how to act, afraid of asserting too much dominance.

Men should feel free to display their sensitivity as well as their strength, and women shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help in fear of appearing defenceless.

“The University of Nottingham is steadily making gender equality a way of life rather than a special occasion”

Encouragingly, this year the University of Nottingham worked towards a more inclusive and educational experience of International Women’s Day.

Talks were set up to further students’ insights into what equality should really look like. The city centre was reverberating with evenings of comedy, special guests and live music. The New Art Exchange hosted an empowering event dedicated to women and feminism and UoN demonstrated its dedication to perpetuating a consistent commemoration of women with “Girls’ Night In”; a female-only night, dedicated to empowering girls through sports.

So, what I’m trying to say is this: International Women’s Day is a wonderful opportunity to commemorate the great steps we’ve taken so far in building a world that creates equal opportunities for both sexes.

However, there is still a lot of work to be done.

The University of Nottingham is steadily making gender equality a way of life rather than a special occasion.

Let’s follow in its steps. Let’s stop defining ourselves on the basis of our gender, quit the competition and work (together) towards a world less defined by appearances and more marked by our actions.

Sofie Cimatti

Featured Image: ‘Bow Street’, courtesy of Leonard Bentley on flickr (License)

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