BBC School Report
We take a closer look at International Women’s Day
Through three feature articles, we aim to explore the idea of International Women’s Day and convey the different feelings that its existence evokes.
Each article below represents a different viewpoint researched and reported on by small groups of students.
We encourage you to read, watch, learn and then make your own mind up about International Women’s Day.
We hope you enjoy our project.
Click on the appropriate link below to take you directly to the article:
- Should International Women's Day Exist? (Pro Women’s Day) - Sehal, Rojhelin, Taiye, Rukya
- The Truth Behind Women's Day (Against) - Nadelka, Samuel, Elijah, Khalil
- The Oblivious View: Coming In From The Dark - (Impartial) Jack and Adem
All of the interviews cited in the articles can be found in links at the end of each article.
SHOULD INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY EXIST?
What is 'Women’s Day'? Is it really necessary? Or is it just another way for feminists to boast power and importance above men?
These are questions that we (as Walworth Academy students) have frequently heard or seen on social media since the date for Women’s Day got nearer. To address these questions and misconceptions, we as a society need to truly understand the origins of Women’s Day, its purpose and importance.
What is Women’s Day?
International Women’s Day was originally called ‘International Working Women’s Day’ and it is celebrated on March 8th every year. Celebrations on Women’s Day usually consists of appreciation and respect being shown towards women for their economic, political, and social achievements.
Some women even adorn themselves with purple ribbons to symbolise their appreciation for Women’s Day. Various women, including political and business leaders, as well as entrepreneurs and public figures, are usually invited to speak at numerous events on the day.
Another frequently asked question is: Why was it created?
The root of this celebration lies in the early 1900s when oppression and inequality was spurring women to become more vocal and active in campaigning for change. The first International Women’s Day occurred on March 19th 1911.
The initial event, which included rallies and meetings, was a big success in many countries such as: Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. The International Women’s Day date was moved to March 8th in 1913.
However, there are still many in society who question the importance and relevance of Women’s Day. For example, we have fellow class mates who strongly oppose Women’s Day.
We asked the question: Is Women’s Day truly important?
The results from a survey we carried out in Parliament square show 100% of the people we asked believe that Women’s Day is important and that women are still oppressed in today’s society.
Why is International Women’s Day important?
Firstly, it is important to acknowledge that Women’s Day is international, meaning it is meant to be celebrated world wide - especially in third world countries where sexism towards women is still prevalent.
Additionally, according to statistics from national studies, up to 70 per cent of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime.
This is a grave problem that our Principal at Walworth Academy, Ms. Yvonne Powell (OBE), has addressed by stating: “There are still many countries where women are seen as sexual objects.”
This sentiment is backed up in an interview we conducted with Dr. Karen Brennan (lecturer in the School of Law at the University of Essex) who also acknowledges: “In many countries women are still treated as inferior to men - they are unable to take an active role in the political and economic spheres, and are confined to the traditional role of wife and mother.”
Even though these problems have improved since the origins of Women’s Day, women are still not seen as equal to men, as nowhere in the world can women claim to have all the same rights and opportunities as men – and this is according to the UN.
On average, women receive between 30 to 40 percent less pay than men earn for the same work.
Women also continue to be victims of abuse, with rape and domestic violence listed as significant causes of mental disorders and in some cases disability and death among women worldwide.
Many may argue that men also face rape and domestic abuse, but the rate is significantly higher for women.
Approximately 85,000 women are raped in England and Wales alone every year, compared to 12,000 men.
International Women’s Day is a day when women are recognized for their achievements and success, despite the inequality they endured in the past and even today in the present.
In our interview with Dr. Karen Brennan, she expresses that “Many women (and girls) are subject to sexist remarks on the street, in offices, in social spaces - something that can make us feel very uncomfortable about ourselves and our safety. International Women’s Day may help to start a conversation about these issues.”
Although many argue that women should be celebrated every day, the fact is that they aren’t and this one day is to help raise awareness of that fact.
We interviewed some of our teachers to get a variety of opinions.
During our interview with Mr. S. Rosser, he very rightly said: “I think it's vital that we continue to celebrate International Women’s Day, and look for ways in which we can instil parity around the world.”
Ms. B. Biosah stated: “Women have had a hard time in history... we couldn't even have a voice... We are supposed to celebrate how far we have come and our achievements.”
Another female teacher we interviewed drew from her own personal experience of sexism and said: "I as a woman have had some really sexist, horrible comments in work... Of course it's more important that we recognise women's achievements, men are still paid more as a whole."
Mr. J. Summers put the concept of having a Women’s Day into perspective when he said: “We have lots of days for different groups in society and there is no reason why we shouldn't have Women’s Day.”
Overall, through interviewing members of the public, our teachers and our Principal, we have come to the conclusion that International Women’s Day is commonly known as an event to highlight women’s achievements and suffrage over the years.
However, very few people know the precise history behind it (when it was created, whom by and why) and also the impact it has on many women’s lives today. Unfortunately, many still view it as insignificant.
In the future, as a group, we hope to see more people appreciating the importance and value of this event. An event that brings to light the struggle and plight of women in the past and currently across the world now.
If you want to listen to the full interviews by these knowledgeable teachers, they will be added at the bottom of the article.
We’d like to thank everyone in our team and the teacher that has arranged everything, Mr Gurd. Also to Mr Binns who has edited our interviews.
Article written by Sehal.
Article edited by Rojhelin.
Research conducted by Sehal and Rukya.
Interviews conducted by Rukya, Taiye, Rojhelin and Sehal.
Recording and editing by Taiye, Mr Binns, Rukya and Sehal.
Survey conducted by Rojhelin.
THE TRUTH BEHIND WOMEN'S DAY
International Women’s Day; a day to commend women and remember the fight women fought all but 70 or so years ago, to banish sexism and gender injustice.
A day to remember famous suffragettes and suffragists. To acknowledge female inventors such as Mary Anderson and Barbara Askins. Not just inventors or famous people like Beyoncé and Chimamanda Ngozi, but to embrace women and celebrate just how great they are.
That sounds good doesn’t it? Why would anyone be against such an amazing event?
This article will tell you why sexism is still an issue. It may not be as big an issue in developed countries as it is in less developed countries, but it’s still there. Sexism is still a major thing. It’s an issue. A problem.
To gain perspective, we went to Parliament Square to interview the general British public regarding their opinions on International Women’s Day.
One of the questions we asked was: ‘do you think that women have gained/ earned the right to be equal to their opposing sex?’
We purposely phrased the questions using the words ‘gained’ and ‘earned’ to see how our participants would react to these phrases. Only 2/6 people said that you shouldn’t have to earn equal rights.
Maddison Cole, went on further to say: “[gender rights] shouldn’t be gained, you should be born with them”.
We couldn’t agree more, gender rights shouldn’t be something you should ask/beg/protest for, it should be a fundamental right!
Women have come a long way and are very close to achieving equality, though they’re still not there yet.
A female reporter for the Daily Mail who wished to stay anonymous told us: “I work for the Daily Mail and gender inequality exists there”.
This helps to prove our point. Why would you celebrate female equality when there is still a lot of sexism happening at this moment in time?
4/6 were completely oblivious to words that we used and went on to answer the question flashing past the extremely biased words without a flinch. This shouldn’t be socially acceptable, we should be able to recognise these words when we first hear them and be able to tell you that this is not okay.
Bianca Lobban of West Indian Heritage UK said: “Yes! Women have gained the right to be equal...”
She then went on to talk about upcoming female Bloggers, Vloggers and YouTubers, completely oblivious to the fact that she just contradicted her whole being.
Our team also asked our interviewees what they thought made International Women’s Day so popular and successful in recent years considering it has been around for roughly 100 years.
All of our participants said that it was due to publicity and social media, but when we asked them why they think equality is so important in society, they didn’t know how to answer.
The British public outside Parliament Square did not consider some of the countries in Africa and Asia, where it is notorious that women lack equal rights to men. They did not comment on the issues Malala Yusuf was tackling at the UN summit, or the fact that FGM is still a major issue. They didn’t seem to know that women are being spat on by males and even some females for being themselves, or being proud of their bodies.
A year 10 boy attending Walworth Academy said: “events such as International Women’s Day and Black History Month are just events to celebrate things that have already happened and not things that are as necessarily relevant to people in this day and age. We should be focusing more on things that can make a better future”.
Khalil, a pupil in year 9 asked: “why are people wasting money on promotions and advertising events such as this when the money could be spent more productively on charities and helping poor people in our country as well as across globe?”
This is a very strong and valid point of view. As there are starving people across the globe and as an economy with an over substantial flood of money, it is the role of developed countries such as ourselves to provide them with the basic resources they need to survive, rather than wasting money on promoting a lost cause that has false hope.
Women’s Day is supposed to celebrate female equality. How is having a day titled: ‘Women’s Day’ symbolising equality in any kind of way?
Personally I believe that Women’s Day should not be an event, not because I’m under the impression that women aren’t equal to men, or because I think women haven’t worked hard enough to gain equal rights. To me, it’s simply pointless.
First, I would like to define what a feminist is as there are a lot of misconceptions and stereotypes.
Feminist: a person who believes in the political and fundamental rights for women. Feminism: the advocacy of women's rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.
I am indeed a feminist, and I believe that women should have equal rights to men, but I think that dedicating a whole day to us is taking it a bit too far. A lot of feminists overly appreciate women and seem to have the hallucination that all women are better than men, which is not the truth.
Some female feminists see themselves as greater than the opposite sex…as better. Is that really what we want?
Over 50 years ago women fought for their rights to play an equal part in society, to have a similar culture to the one in which people of our day an age are lucky enough to experience every day.
Even at the time of their struggles, did men have a day to cherish and commemorate their greatness? The answer is no, so why is it now that women get to do that same thing?
A lot of people would argue that every day was ‘Men’s Day’. Everyone was under the impression that men were so much better than women, even some women would have thought so too. Though this is all true, we need to remember: that was the culture and beliefs of the time and that was how the world was (at least in this country).
When Women’s Day was first established in 1901, it was reasonable to be having Women’s Day annually to symbolise the female fight for equality, however in this day and age that is no longer the case.
No gender is more prestigious than another. Sexism is no longer a major issue that women have to live with and abide by every day. Men wake up in the morning, take a shower, eat (etc.) and then leave to go to work in the morning, just as women do.
By dedicating a whole day to women, isn’t it suggesting that women are above men? Or implying that women are still unequal to men? Isn’t that what women fought so hard to banish, the difference and superiority of one gender to the other?
Women’s Day became an international celebration of women's rights in 1928. Women’s Day has only become more popular these last couple of years. But what does Women’s Day actually mean and is it actually necessary in today’s society?
We asked Ms. Yvonne Powell (OBE), Walworth Academy Principal:
‘In Eastern Europe, men devote Women’s Day to giving women and girls chocolates and flowers, do you not think that this deprives women’s worth in their cultural societies and do you not believe that men are taking the accurate context and meaning of Women’s Day and changing what it stands for?’
Ms. Powell replied: “Even though it is a start, it is not enough and the women deserve more.”
Sexism is a large problem there, its culture! How dare there be such a thing as having sexism as a part of someone’s culture. It’s wrong and inhumane. International Women’s Day is supposed to be a day when women celebrate their accomplishments.
Why would you celebrate something that is still on going? Would you celebrate winning a war five years before it actually ended? No? So why celebrate Women’s Day and female equality when there still isn’t 100% equality?
It’s not helping young females in any way, in fact it’s provoking negative opinions.
Although this contrasts with the interview we conducted with our Principal, Ms. Yvonne Powell (OBE) who did address these points, which can been seen by watching the video above.
We asked Ms. Powell:
‘Do you think Women’s Day should just be confined to one day or should it be expanded or not exist at all?’
She replied: “Why should Women’s Day only be one day? …Rather than celebrating women’s for one day, everyone should be celebrated every day.”
Taking in all viewpoints of today, I can now acknowledge and understand other people’s viewpoints on the topic of International Women’s Day. I understand the views expressed in the article written by Sehal and the opinions shared by people who support Women’s Day.
But, until things have changed, my mind will stick to what I have noted in this article.
Thank you for reading.
Interviews: Samuel & Nadelka
THE OBLIVIOUS VIEW: COMING IN FROM THE DARK
Hi, this is Adem and Jack. We were oblivious as to what Women’s Day actually was before today. We had no idea the day even existed!
Today we went with several students to Parliament Square to interview people from different backgrounds to understand how they view Women’s Day.
Whilst we were out, several other students asked the people of London questions about their views regarding International Women’s Day.
We had two teams of students, one was pro International Women’s Day and the other was against.
Adem and I were ‘coming in from the dark’, trying to understand the significance of International Women’s Day from absolutely no prior knowledge.
We asked people 33 different people if they believed that International Women’s Day is important. The results shown that 31 people were for Women’s Day and 2 were against. For us, this indicates how the public view International Women’s Day.
Another question we put to the 33 participants was whether they believe that Women’s Day had helped equality between men and women. 8 people said it hadn’t helped gender equality whilst 25 people agreed that it has helped gender equality.
Our survey also questioned the existence of International Women’s Day: 5 people said that it shouldn’t exist, whilst 28 said that it should. This shows that the majority of people believe in Women’s Day and think it is worth having.
One member of the public said something that stuck with us: “It is not important as it is only one day, it should be everyday as it would make a greater impact”.
We also had the opportunity to interview our school Principal, Ms. Y. Powell (OBE). We were able to gain more insight from her view of Women’s Day.
These are our final thoughts, taking into consideration all that we have seen and heard today.
After being completely oblivious, I now know what International Women’s Day is and I think that it is a very important day. It is a day that shows that women are equal, as it was previously thought that men were more superior in every way. This is clearly NOT true in my opinion. We are exactly the same!
There are still some inequalities in today’s society, an example of this is if a man and women were in the exact same job, same position the man will most probably get paid higher just because he is a man!! So even if some men look at women as equal there are still some inequalities.
I think this is because we humans are not civilised enough, we still act like kids and just don’t understand. I believe in equality between men and women!
In my personal opinion, I believe that International Women’s Day is a waste of a day. I believe this because it is only one day of a year. That is only 1 in 365 days. Everyday should be International Women’s Day as it is an important thing to make people remember what equality is.
Women should be respected as much as men; they are no different from each other. A lot of people say the phrase: “every day is a man day”, it should be the same for women too.