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Is International Women's Day Sexist?

12/03/2017 17:13 GMT | Updated 12/03/2017 17:13 GMT

Some of the anti-International Women's Day rhetoric this year, from men and women, is worrying.

I foolishly engaged in a Facebook debate on the subject (always a bad move - you'll never be satisfied). But this was one debate I just couldn't ignore.

Here were strong professional women who see themselves as equal in every way with a man, which of course they are, asking why we need IWD. Isn't it sexist in itself to single women out as needing a Day? Does that mean the other 364 days are men's days? Etc, etc...

They've missed the point entirely. Men don't need a Day in quite the same way because they are already ahead, in pay (by about 18% according to stats) and senior roles. They are not casually undermined, overlooked and belittled because of their gender. They haven't had to fight for the rights they have.

The rest of the year is essentially for men. Women are playing catch up, not in our abilities of course, but in acknowledgement of what we are capable of.

Let's not forget that IWD isn't just about British women fighting for professional equality in the workplace. Women are subject to degradation and subordination the world over in a way that men are not. Men don't have to look over their shoulders if they walk alone at night.

Elsewhere on Facebook, a story from EasyJet about an all-female flight crew prompted comments from those who felt that an opposite story promoting an all-male flight crew would have the equality police up in arms. However, there wouldn't be a story on the news about an all-male flight crew. BECAUSE IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME. An all-female crew shouldn't be news, but it is because it's rare. I hope one day it isn't newsworthy, but for now, by shouting about it, perhaps we can tell today's young ladies that the sky is literally the limit for them.

Talking down women's rights to speak out and celebrate our worth can only exacerbate the problem. It's telling us not to make such a fuss; what have we got to complain about? To the men making those comments I say you can't possibly claim to understand the struggle of a social group you do not belong to. Telling us to quieten down will only make us shout louder. To the women making those comments, I urge them to look outside of their own experiences.

I hope we continue to make a fuss until we are not overlooked for job roles once we reach childbearing age, until we can expect the same pay and respect for doing the same work, until we find the right balance to allow us to fulfil our potential professionally and be a mother if we so wish or until women taking maternity leave are not discriminated against.

I'm raising a little lady myself, and I want her to know her mum spoke up in the hopes of making the world a little easier and a little nicer for her when she grows up.

Is it sexist to have IWD? Is Black History Month racist or Gay Pride homophobic? Of course not. Side-lined or under-represented groups can and should make their voices heard and celebrate progress.

Sexism would exist with our without IWD. Having a day to shout about our achievements and inequality doesn't make these issues any worse than they already are, and while yes it would be wonderful if we didn't need things like IWD, we're not there yet.