To celebrate International Women’s Day we have created a list of Women’s Rights campaigns and campaigners who have affected women in the past 100 years! Here are our top five.
4 – Laura Boldrini
Laura Boldrini is the first in our International Women’s day list. She’s tackling racism and sexism in Italy on a huge scale – while in hiding. She has been threatened with rape; been sent a bullet in the post; burned in effigy and forced to run for reelection while in hiding. Boldrini has campaigned for her own parliament to take on the issue of domestic violence since her first day, however the struggle has been immense: “In Italy there is a real difficulty in accepting the authoritativeness of women.” says Boldrini. Despite the harsh and terrifying opposition Laura “will continue to fight so that Italy becomes a country that knows how to value women.”
Laura Boldrini has already dismantled many beauty pageants and readily calls out other members of parliament when they incite any kind of violence or commit an act of sexism or racism. Boldrini’s core belief is that men in Italy should be taking responsibility for their actions and realise that their place in society is not above women but beside them.
3 – Reclaim the Night
Reclaim the Night is a campaign which is organised by the London Feminist Network. In November of last year a march was held to take over London’s streets which triggered marches across the western world; Manchester, New York, Belfast, and many other countries and cities.
The way Reclaim the night works is by using a huge number of people to disrupt key streets and make sure that they are noticed through pure noise and inconvenience. This shows the collective strength and “demand for freedom from sexual violence and harrassment.”
Reclaim the Night gives women a voice and a chance to be safe while walking the streets. Despite so many countries campaigning for women’s right walk late at night without fear of sexual assault there is still a long journey ahead.
“Over the years the marches evolved to focus on rape and male violence generally, giving women one night when they could feel safe to walk the streets of their own towns and cities… we still have not got these rights; because women are still blamed for rape and male violence.”
2 – Icelandic Women’s Strike
On the 24th of October 1975, 90 percent of Icelandic women went on strike for a day to demonstrate the indispensable work of women for Iceland’s economy and society and to protest wage wage discrepancy and unfair employment practices. Before the strike working women would earn 60% of what a man earned, most women wouldn’t even be able to work because they were tasked with all the housework and childrearing.
When the UN declared 1975 International Women’s Year a committee was set up with representatives from five major women’s rights organisations in Iceland. The committee was handed the idea of the strike by one of the representatives and decided on calling it a “day off” which was meant to sound much more pleasant and engaging. Event organisers talked with radio and television stations and newspapers to run real stories about sex-based discrimination which, with the day off, caught international attention.
The country had been shut down for the day and the women achieved their goal: the day off had opened the eyes of many men who would come to call it “the long Friday.”
1 – #MeToo
Me too is a campaign which we should all be familiar with. demands for an end to violence against women have been met with laissez-faire attitudes from too many police officials, too many mental health professionals and too many friends. Women have been trolled and intimidated for speaking up about their experiences with sexual harassment and violence and after the sex scandals in Hollywood last year enough was enough. Time’s up.
Tarana Burke, a social activist and community organiser was the first to use the phrase, in 2006. Tarana had been confided in by a 13 year old that she had been sexually assaulted and was left unable to respond and looking back says she would rather have simply told the little girl, “me too.”
In October of 2017 Alyssa Milano encouraged friends and others on her social media pages to share the phrase because “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted write “me too” as a status we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” MeToo was so powerful that in the first 24 hours of publishing the tweet 4.7 million people and 12 million posts had used the hashtag on facebook alone.
As a result of #MeToo people are feeling more able to report their experiences of sexual violence and harassment, to their friends or the police. Despite the sadness and desperation we also got to know that even the celebrities we admire and who we believe are so successful have had to suffer through sexual violence: Ellen DeGeneres; Jennifer Lawrence; Lady Gaga and Viola Davis are just a handful of people who have used #metoo on their social media and who have spoken out in support of other victims.