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    Why International Women’s Day Matters

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    Why International Women’s Day Matters


    What it’s About

    International Women’s Day took shape in the early 1900s, becoming an annual event in 1910 when activist Clara Zetkin proposed a specific day be celebrated each year and in every country. Driven by the launch of in 2001 and the increased publicity by the sharing of stories on social media, the world now celebrates International Women’s Day every March 8th. It has become a popular event marked by governments, institutions and employers around the world, celebrating the accomplishments of women in areas that were once closed to them such as politics, business, economics and science. But how important is the day, and how does it impact the equality, safety and rights of women and girls?

    How it Supports Change

    International Women’s Day isn’t only about celebrating the achievements of women. It originated from the long struggle for labour and voting rights. At its heart, the day is about equality for women. Although the situation has significantly improved over recent years and there is more representation in decision-making groups and in the boardroom, there is a long way to go before women have full equality. In reality, there is a gender pay gap and women are underrepresented in leadership roles, politics and other fields. In some parts of the world, women have few rights compared to men. In addition, women experience more physical violence, sexual assault, forced marriage, honour-based violence, sex trafficking, female genital mutilation and war rape. Keeping the origins of International Women’s Day in mind helps us remember that radical change is needed.

    It Highlights Important Issues

    A different campaign theme is adopted by the IWD website each year, highlighting important issues and putting out a call for action. The theme for 2023 is #EmbraceEquity with the aim of getting people talking about Why equal opportunities aren’t enough. Previous campaigns have included #BreakTheBias, #ChooseToChallenge, #BeBoldforChange, #PledgeforParity, #TheGenderAgenda and others. Not only does this raise awareness of the issue but also raises funds from the many businesses that choose to get involved. Money donated is given to women’s charities.

     It Puts Women Centre-Stage

    Celebrating the amazing achievements of women is an important part of International Women’s Day, and so it should be. More women than ever are breaking glass ceilings and playing crucial roles in their chosen fields. But it also gives us an opportunity to reflect on women whose voices are rarely heard. There are still communities around the globe in which women are discouraged or find it impossible to have an education, a career or bodily, legal or financial autonomy. Amid the celebrating, we remember there is much work to be done, and there is a need to support all women, whoever and wherever they are.

    It Raises Awareness

    International Women’s Day raises awareness of inequality and the work still to be done. Whether it’s a discussion on social media, education in the classroom, or a publicity event at work – the more people that are aware of the day, the more awareness there is around the fight for equality.

     Helps us Assess Our Lives

    With the focus on equality, safety, achievement and potential, International Women’s Day helps women assess where they are right now and to reflect on what needs to change. Whether you’re in a relationship or a job that no longer serves you, or whether it’s time to take action in your own life, you should remember that all women are important and vital members of families, organisations and communities, and that includes you. Make March 8th a day to celebrate how far you have come, and think about where you want to go next.

    From its beginnings back in the struggle for women’s suffrage to the slick social media campaigns of today, International Women’s Day is an important global celebration for the equality and emancipation of women. But behind the celebrations is a very important message, one that we should all pay attention to, whatever our gender. So, have fun, be safe, stay strong, and keep fighting.

    Happy International Women’s Day to women around the world, from everyone at NCDV.

     Charlotte Woodward

    National Training Manager, NCDV


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    By Fiona Bawden, Times Online (8th May 2007)

    “Steve Connor, a student at City Law School, is a man on a mission. Six years ago he was a fairly directionless 27-year-old. Today, as well as taking the Bar Vocational Course, he is chairman of the National Centre for Domestic Violence, a ground-breaking organisation that he dragged into existence after a friend could not get legal help to protect her from an abusive partner.

    Connor’s route to the Bar has been circuitous. In 2001 he returned from a year in Australia (he says that he would not dignify describing it as a gap year), and took a job as a process server in South London. The job (“I just saw it advertised in the paper”) was not quite as dull as it sounds. On one occasion he was threatened with a machete, on another, he was nearly stabbed by a man he had arranged to meet on Clapham Common to serve with a non-molestation order: “He’d seemed really friendly on the phone…”

    The turning point in his life came when a friend, who was being abused by her partner, turned to him for support. Connor went with her to the police. She did not want to press criminal charges so the police suggested that she visit a solicitor to take out a civil injunction. “We must have seen 12 solicitors in a morning. We just went from one to the next to the next to the next. Everyone was very eager to help until we sat down to fill in the forms for the legal aid means test,” he says. The woman, who had a small child, did not qualify for public funding. But, Connor says, her financial situation as it appeared on paper did not bear any relation to her financial situation in reality. “She had a part-time job and she and her partner owned their home. Yet she didn’t have any money. Her boyfriend was very controlling and controlled all the money; he kept the chequebooks and didn’t let her have access to the bank account.”

    The injustice of the situation got under Connor’s skin. “I just couldn’t believe that there was no help available to people who did not qualify for public funds but could not afford to pay.

    I just kept feeling that this must be able to be sorted if only someone would address it.”That “someone” turned out to be him.

    In 2002, thanks entirely to Connor’s doggedness, the London Centre for Domestic Violence was formed. It started out with him and a friend, but is now a national organisation, covering 27 counties, and has helped approximately 10,000 victims last year to take out injunctions against their partners.

    NCDV now has nine full-time staff, 12 permanent volunteers and has trained over 5000 law and other students as McKenzie Friends to accompany unrepresented victims into court. We have also trained over 8000 police officers in civil remedies available regarding domestic violence. The National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) has branches in London, Guildford and Manchester and is on track to have branches in 16 areas within the next two years.

    NCDV specialises exclusively in domestic violence work and could be characterised as a cross between McDonald’s and Claims Direct. The high degree of specialisation means that its processes are streamlined: clients can be seen quickly and the work is done speedily and cheaply. “Sometimes, we will have one of our trained McKenzie Friends at a court doing 10 applications in one day,” Connor says.

    Clients are not charged for the service. NCDV staff take an initial statement: clients who qualify for legal aid are referred to a local firm; those that don’t get free help from the centre itself. It runs on a shoestring, heavily reliant on volunteers and capping staff salaries at £18,000 a year.

    Steve expects to qualify as a barrister this summer and hopes that having a formal legal qualification will give the centre added clout. “We are already acknowledged as experts and consulted at a high level, so I thought it would be helpful if I could back that up by being able to say I’m a barrister,” he says. He is just about to complete a one-year full-time BVC course at the City Law School (formerly the Inns of Court Law School) and, all being well, should be called to the Bar in July. Although Connor sees his long-term future as a barrister, he says that he has no immediate plans to practise. “I want to get NCDV running on a fully national level. Then I may take a step back and have a career at the Bar.”