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Sexism is dead.... Is it?

Happy 100th International Women’s Day!  A day when the world both celebrates the economic and social progress of women and girls globally, and stops to consider whether gender equality has been achieved.

According to today’s Daily Mail, it would appear we’re there. “Sexism is dead!” it asserts boldly, after reviewing the findings from a new poll commissioned by the EQUALS coalition – of which Amnesty is part. 

According to our poll, 53 per cent of women across the UK believe that they are treated equally to men. That also translates as 47 per cent believing that they are not treated equally.  From where I’m sitting that does not translate as sexism being dead.

The Daily Telegraph also reports that most women are treated equally.  It goes on to draw out the finding that around four in 10 young women have never “personally experienced” sexist remarks or sexist behaviour.  Hmmm… shouldn’t this be six in ten young women who have experienced some form of sexism?
When we first saw the results from the Ipsos MORI poll we were struck by the level of sexism and the persistent levels of gender inequality.

But today what I find more concerning is how the media is reporting on this survey.  Should Britain really be satisfied with the fact that the majority of young women still experience sexist comments?  Or that just less than half of all women think that they are not treated equally in Britain?

Should women just shrug it off and simply not expect to feel equal to men? 

To me, that makes an entire mockery of the struggle by both women and men over the past century to achieve gender equality.  And it makes me despair at the thought that we may well need another 100 years of campaigning to ensure that men and women are treated equally, not only in the UK but around the world.

As Amnesty’s Director Kate Allen points out, it is these negative views which in the most extreme instances can lead to abusive behaviour towards women and a basic denial of women’s rights.
The Guardian has today given a lot of space to celebrating and marking this day, highlighting the persistent pay gap between sexes; that gender equality must be taught in schools around the world and also giving a nod to the 100 most inspirational women.  (I’m delighted to see that Oprah’s in that list – definitely one of my heroes!). The Guardian notes how these women have broken through the ‘glass ceiling’, which reinforces the sad point that 100 years after the first International women’s Day was celebrated there remains a glass ceiling.

For women to be considered equal to men remains a challenge, not a basic right. 
Clearly there remains a long way to go. 

The EQUALS coalition has also produced a film which has been directed by Sam Taylor-Wood and produced by Barbara Broccoli and stars Daniel Craig and Dame Judi Dench.


As well the Sun, the Mail (ironically!) and Sky News featuring the film, it’s also currently trending worldwide on Twitter. .

Other stuff happening today ranges from the fun and frivolous with EQUALS hosting what is set to be London’s largest soul train down by the South Bank (Jubilee Gardens to be precise) between 3 and 6 to the more thoughtful including an Amnesty debate. 

Annie Lennox will kick off the Train wiith Jazzie B taking to the decks and Paloma Faith and Oona King strutting their stuff down the train. Alternatively, if you’re in Shoreditch this evening, Amnesty will be hosting a provocative debate on women’s rights and women’s rights defenders in the Middle East this evening, with some interesting speakers.  There should still be a few places for the event, so click through here to reserve your seat. Speaking of the Middle East you may also be interested in reading a blog on the Independent’s Blogs site by one of Amnesty’s Senior policy Directors relating to women’s rights in the Middle East.

Contrary to what the Mail or Telegraph suggest there remains a long way to go before men and women fully achieve gender equality and before sexism is really dead. It’s a shame to say that as we mark the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day.  But until gender equality is fully achieved around the world, Amnesty will carry on the campaign!

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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