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Letters / Spare a thought for women

Each year around the world, International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on 8 March.

Thousands of events occur not just on this day but throughout March to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women.

Everyone in Shetland, young or old, female or male could do a little something, by taking five minutes to think about what it means to be a woman in Shetland and the wider world.

Perhaps we could think about our daughters, our wives, our mothers, our sisters, our grandmothers.

Do we have the same hopes and fears for them as we have for their male counterparts? Do they have the same opportunities? What can we expect for them? What limitations do we place on them?

It seems to be widely regarded that feminism has had its day, some even worry that feminism has gone too far and that there is an unconscious bias in our society: “girls are wonderful; boys are terrible”.

But the equality that so many people see existing between women and men is an illusion when:

* women do two thirds of the world’s work, yet receive 10 per cent of the world’s income and own one per cent of the means of production;
* women in the UK are paid 22.6 per cent less per hour than men;
* at least 100,000 women are raped each year in the UK and the rape conviction rate is 6.5 per cent;
* only 18.3 per cent of the world’s members of parliament are women (the UK figure is under 20 per cent).

During the 1990s the number of men paying for sex acts in the UK doubled.These are not statistics from a bygone age – this is our world.

Carry out an act of collective love for the women in our lives and think about equality this International Women’s Day.

Karen McKelvie
Shetland Women’s Aid
St Olaf Street