Mary Beard, Writer:
“You cannot easily fit women into a structure that is already coded as male; you have to change the structure”
This year marks an incredibly special anniversary in the history of Women’s Rights. It is the centenary of when women over 30, who owned property, were granted the right to vote for the first time.
I was delighted to host a special evening celebrating this momentous achievement on International Women’s Day. To be in a room full of London’s current and future leaders made me buzz with excitement.
But even as we recognise the fantastic achievements of women across London, it’s essential we remember the mantra #PressForProgress. The fight goes on and we must continue to do this to achieve true equality.
Gender inequality still exists in 2018. There are over four million women and girls in London who face challenges with employment, poverty, discrimination and safety. Sadly, the World Economic Forum predicts that the gender pay gap will not close until 2186.
And let us not forget that in our city, three in four survivors of domestic violence, and almost nine in ten victims of sexual offences, are female.
The London Assembly came together to celebrate International Women’s Day and the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of London’s women and girls. But our steadfast commitment is not limited to one day. Throughout the year the Assembly has called on the Mayor to further the cause of women.
We have asked him to ensure London’s businesses, Transport for London and the Police Service are free from any type of prejudice towards women.
We have stressed the urgency of adopting equal rights regarding women’s access to work, equal pay and caring responsibilities.
And we have worked hard to ensure that guests attending our meetings were of equal gender balance, achieving a 50/50 split for the first time in this municipal year, which is something I’m personally very proud of.
I would like to thank all the inspirational speakers we had joining us – the city’s leaders Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, Dany Cotton, London Fire Brigade Commissioner and Amy Lamé, London’s Night Czar, pioneering women in their fields, Asha Philip, Sharon Ament, Hayley Mulenda and Anne-Marie Imafidon and tireless campaigners, Hibo Wardere, Siena Castellon and Amika George.
We also had fantastic performances, from poet Priscila “La Poeta”, music from Ayanna Witter Johnson and The Voice of Domestic Workers. It was truly a night to remember, so let’s keep up the good work and focus.
Everyone should have a focus – and women who had that focus a hundred years ago are the reason why we can celebrate the centenary of the women’s vote this year.
Don’t let anyone push you from your path for progress and be reassured that we are all here to help you with your struggle – whatever it may be.