THE BLOG

To My Daughter, on International Women's Day

07/03/2014 15:58 GMT | Updated 07/05/2014 10:59 BST

It is your first International Women's Day. At seven months old, you are oblivious to the notion that our sex has struggled for equality. You do not know this day has been marked out in calendars annually for over a century. You understand nothing of the battle women fought to be treated fairly.

It is your first International Women's Day, and I am writing to you, not your two-year-old brother. There is no equivalent day in the world's diary for him. There is no annual celebration of how hard his sex has worked to achieve equal pay or voting rights. There is no festival dedicated to improving his access to the workplace.

On your first International Women's Day there will be events and gatherings held around the world. Women, crucially, have found their voices - and this will be celebrated. They will talk, sing, tell their stories, write words, perform - they will use their voices to show the world that they are here and will not be hushed.

Women and men will come together to recognise the achievements of womenkind. Because of those who have battled injustice, women now stand beside men in almost every workplace, they stand alongside men when decisions are made, and they stand next to men when salaries are paid.

To a point.

On your first International Women's Day, Jasmin, I want you to know this. Women in the developed world have found their voices, yes. They have no fear of using them, yes. And they have won the policy battle. Yes. But in their everyday lives, many are still lingering, flailing, and struggling. They don't know if they will ever live in a world which is truly just.

The disabled woman, the ethnic minority woman (your mother, for example), the single parent, the woman who wasn't given fair access to education, the woman who didn't have the same opportunities as those more privileged, the women who suffers abuse - International Women's Day means something different to all of these women.

They may have their voices, they may have the same theoretical rights as each other - but they do not always have choice. Their oppression is layered, it is multi-faceted, and it is sometimes so subtle that the world can easily choose not to see it.

On International Women's Day, Jasmin, I cast a wish into this world that one day you will have choices. But first, I wish the following:

I hope you will always have equal pay, equal access to education, equal treatment at work, and equal rights to vote and own property. I hope you will grow up free from the restrictions of gender stereotyping. I hope you will live your life free from fear of sexual violence. I hope you will never be judged on your gender. I hope you will never be passed over at work because you look like you might have children soon and need to take maternity leave. I hope that one day you will have children without fear of losing what you have worked for.

On International Women's Day, Jasmin, I hope you go into a world where your voice is heard and where you aren't afraid to use it. And, above all, Jasmin, I cast a wish into the world that you will one day truly have choice.

Kiran Chug is a writer and mother of two and blogs at Mummy Says