WITH the celebration of International Women’s Day, Mother’s Day and the beginning of the 65th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women over the past couple of weeks, it has been a busy season for women.
Yet in the midst of all this we have been brutally reminded how far we have to go regarding gender equality. As the scenes unfolded regarding the murder of Sarah Everard in London, and the police handling of women at her vigil last weekend, countless women took to social media to share snippets of their painful experiences about being a woman in society, under the hashtag #ReclaimTheseStreets. I was deeply moved as I read the many stories shared, to include:
• Being sneered and taunted at while out running or walking.
• Women who have been assaulted: sexually, emotionally, physically, verbally
• Texting to say they are ‘home safe’/wearing flat shoes at night so they can run if they need to.
• Women feeling they always have to carry car keys in hand and lock car doors.
• Being told to be careful what she is wearing in her workplace or on a night out
And so on and so on. The stories were endless and completely heartbreaking.
It is tragic that in 2021 we still have to be campaigning that every woman should feel safe. But the cold, harsh reality is – they don’t feel safe.
Use of religious beliefs to justify gender injustice in any walk of life needs to be challenged. It is uplifting to learn of the many organisations who are working toward gender equality in all fields here, in Ireland.
We don’t feel safe. I don’t feel safe. Every woman I have spoken to has her own story. Every woman knows what it is to suffer gender injustice in whatever life arena they are placed. Despite such challenging times...
Women are fighting back.
Women are speaking and standing up.
Women are championing a better way.
Women are paving a better way.
"Text me when you get home xx":— NBC News (@NBCNews) March 18, 2021
Author of viral post after murder of Sarah Everard speaks on women’s fears. https://t.co/Z1LgZJSXVs
This week I have had the honour of being part of the Northern Ireland Women’s European delegation to United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. It is both inspirational and encouraging to witness the many women (and men) from around the world empowered to tackle gender injustice.
My particular focus centres on gender and religion. Use of religious beliefs to justify gender injustice in any walk of life needs to be challenged. It is uplifting to learn of the many organisations who are working toward gender equality in all fields here in Ireland.
They are all heroes. All of us have a responsibility to make our world, our communities and our streets a better place for women. You can be part of the change by actively calling out gender injustice on social media and in your everyday lives, partnering with women’s groups and getting involved in their activism, or by simply signing an online petition; for example Women’s Aid have started a petition as Northern Ireland is the only place in the United Kingdom that does not have a specific strategy to bring an end to violence against women and girls. These are just a few simple ways you can help bring about change.
How women are treated affects all of us. Let’s all play our part. After all, the Apostle Paul reminds us: “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For we are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Let’s reclaim the streets – the streets belong to all of us!