Jean Edelstein: Equal gender rights shouldn't be defined as a feminist issue

We've come a long way since 1911, when the then-home secretary force-fed imprisoned suffragettes whose dedication to the cause of female enfranchisement was so profound they were willing to put their lives on the line for it.

To British women today, our gender is not supposed to be an issue; although we may worry about things like work-life balances, gender pay gaps, and sexual harassment in the workplace, in general we are secure in the knowledge that we are legally entitled to have equivalent experiences to those had by the male population.

But while we may take International Women's Day as an opportunity to celebrate women's achievements, we must reflect upon whether we have accomplished enough.

Endemic violence against women persists in the UK, and our justice system is poorly equipped to deal with it. Prosecuted rape cases (far fewer than the number of assaults actually reported) still hover at around five per cent, with victims essentially considered guilty until proven innocent. Workplace discrimination remains a constant struggle, although it may now be more subtle than before.

Beyond this, we must look further than Britain's shores: being female continues to disadvantage millions of human beings. Amnesty International found domestic violence – over cancer, or car accidents – is the major cause of death and disability for European women aged 16 to 44, and female rates of new HIV infection far outstrip those of men, particularly in the developing world.

Will women achieve equality in the next 100 years? I'd like to think so, although the deep entrenchment of sexism across many aspects of society seems to make it unlikely. I like to think we – and by "we" I mean everyone who values a progressive and free society, no matter what the composition of our chromosomes – will keep trying. Equal gender rights should not be defined as a feminist issue and they shouldn't be defined by cultural contexts. Women's rights are human rights and human rights are something we should never stop striving for.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in