We all have a part to play in the battle for gender equality - it needs to be a reality, not just an ideal

As we unite this International Women’s Day, let’s reaffirm our commitment to working towards lasting change

Sadiq Khan
Saturday 07 March 2020 12:41 GMT
International Women's Day 2020: How it began and why it's still important

Tomorrow afternoon, on International Women’s Day, thousands of women and their allies in the struggle for gender equality will march on the streets of London.

They will be uniting in defiance of enduring sexism and misogyny, in solidarity with marginalised women everywhere and in recognition of the many ways in which women of all ages and backgrounds enrich our society.

As a proud feminist, I am honoured to be once again marching alongside them.

It’s important that we all stand together and show the world that in 2020 it is simply unacceptable that women and girls are still facing barriers to success.

Women make up just 27 per cent of managerial positions worldwide and 23 per cent of political office-holders. One in five women and girls between the ages of 15-49 has reported experiencing physical or sexual violence by a partner, and 49 countries have no laws protecting women from domestic violence. This has to change.

London is the greatest city in the world and it wouldn’t be the place it is today without the huge contribution of courageous women throughout its history. Women like Millicent Fawcett, who I was proud to have honoured through the first statue of a woman on Parliament Square.

But for too long women have been held back and their achievements in almost every sphere have been undervalued and erased – whether they were writers or inventors, campaigners or athletes.

I know that progress has been made towards gender equality, but more needs to be done.

That’s why I have made dismantling the barriers facing women and girls a key priority of my Mayoralty. It is not enough for me to merely be a feminist in principle. I have a responsibility to be a feminist in practice because gender equality should be a lived reality, not an abstract ideal.

Across London I have championed the rights of women and girls through my Behind Every Great City campaign, developed a strategy to tackle violence against women and girls, signed London up to the UN Women’s Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces Programme, and established the first-ever Women’s Night Safety Charter signed by close to 400 businesses, councils and organisations across the capital.

I want all women to feel safe in London, whether they are going to work or enjoying the culture and entertainment that our city has to offer. That’s why we need every Londoner to call out sexism and misogyny when they encounter it, and it’s why I’ve backed calls for misogyny to be included in the legal definition of hate crime and for all hate crimes based on protected characteristics to be treated equally.

I’m determined that City Hall leads by example as a truly equal employer. I commissioned annual reviews of the gender pay gap across the Greater London Authority group – including in the Metropolitan Police and the London Fire Brigade – to push us all towards true equality. I am incredibly proud that our most recent figures show the pay gap at City Hall is almost zero.

I’m also incredibly proud that seven of my ten deputy mayors are women. We also have Amy Lamé as London’s first Night Czar, Mary Harpley as the GLA’s most senior officer and Cressida Dick as the Metropolitan Police’s first woman Commissioner. These incredibly hard-working and talented women are fantastic role models for everyone in our city.

We all have a part to play in the battle for gender equality. Together, as Londoners, we must ensure that ours is a city of opportunity and a place where anyone can fulfil their potential, regardless of gender. So as we unite together this International Women’s Day, let’s reaffirm our commitment to continue working in pursuit of true equality and lasting change.

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