Why we need International Women’s Day

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We are busy fundraising and submitting funding bids for our festival on Saturday 5th March 2016 in Derby. Applying for grants requires evidence of need and this always reminds us of why we do what we do… Trigger note: Upsetting statistics about the treatment of women including violence.

Evidence of need for an event that brings together various local causes for women and girls with inspiring talks, workshops and role models plus career and study opportunities and campaigns for a brighter, safer, healthier, fairer future for sisters worldwide comes from the following statistics:

• Women and girls account for about 80% of trafficking victims. Every year, at least two million women and girls are trafficked into prostitution, forced slavery, and servitude.

• 60% of women worldwide experience some form of physical or sexual abuse during their lifetime, including female genital mutilation (FGM) and rape as a weapon of war.

• 1 in 3 women worldwide reports that her first sexual experience was forced upon her.

• Globally women aged 15-44yrs are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war and malaria combined.

In the UK there is complacency that ‘all the battles for gender equality have been won’ however the data shows that –
1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime and 2 women in the UK are killed each week by a current or former male partner.

Violence in relationships is so normalised in popular culture that 1 in 3 teenage girls are under the impression that it is sometimes acceptable to be hit by a boyfriend and over half of teenage girls report being pressured into sex.

• 95% of women want to change something about their physical appearance, mostly body size, and most cite media images as a top three reason for this poor self-image. A third of three-year-old girls worry about being ‘too fat’; by the age of nine, half of girls have been on a diet and among girls aged 15-17yrs their most common one wish for life is to be thinner.

• In a survey of 14-15yr olds exploring the influence of ‘celebrity culture’, asked for their top three words to describe the traits required for success for their gender most girls said ‘being pretty or attractive’ and most boys said ‘talent’.

• Only a third of teenage girls are taking enough regular exercise and only 1 in 8 women regularly play sport compared with 1 in 5 men; only 4 per cent of sports coverage in national and local press focuses on women’s sport.

• Employment inequality: 30,000 working women lose their jobs each year due to becoming pregnant. Women’s pay, career progression and representation in the board room remains below that of men’s, with particularly low representation in sports, science, engineering, technology, the built environment and politics.

• Women are outnumbered in Parliament; at the current pace of change a baby girl born today will celebrate her 70th birthday before she sees equal representation of her gender in Parliament.

Many of the trends above are exacerbated for women from minority ethnic communities, from the least wealthy backgrounds, disabled women, lesbian, bisexual and trans women and we make specific efforts to engage these groups, and reduce their isolation, in our IWD activities.

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